Poor defence representation by the former administration in large lawsuits against the state, resulted in ballooned judgements that the current administration is now saddled with.
“What we have found with these cases that we have inherited is that when you actually look at the cases, little or no effort was put in to defend and represent the state in these cases,” Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams said.
The APNU+AFC administration has inherited several large judgements from lawsuits brought against the state under the former administration. The coalition government is at present in the process of paying out RUDISA Beverages, a Surinamese company after negotiating a reduction in the awarded sum.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams
The beverage company was awarded US$7.72M in a ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in 2014 after challenging the environmental taxes levied against it by the previous administration. The government had since negotiated a cost of US$6.22M.
AG Williams said that Cabinet has authorised the method of negotiating reduction in the judgements the government has inherited.
Williams explained that negotiations are underway in the NH International $2.8B judgement which was awarded to the Trinidadian construction company by the CCJ last year. The lawsuit was brought against the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration following contractual disputes in 2007.
The AG said, the cost in the NH International judgement “ought not to have ballooned into such a large amount if proper judgement had been exercised in the matter; they had no case,” the AG pointed out.
In relation to other cases, AG Williams noted that an application for an extension of time in the Dipcon Engineering Services Limited ruling is pending in the Court of Appeal. Last year, Dipcon Engineering Services Limited brought a lawsuit against the previous administration over outstanding payments. The AG lamented the fact that his chambers were unaware of this case when it took over the Legal Affairs Ministry. “Apparently Mr (Anil) Nandlall (former AG) farmed the matter out to a private practitioner,” said Williams.
Meanwhile, the AG said that government “will vigorously defend” cases against the state that it has inherited. These large judgements are a “burden on this nation, it’s a burden on the taxpayers, and the people of this nation, and this government,” the AG said.
The AG added, “The PPP must hold full responsibility for all those cases with the large judgements that were racked up.”