Contractor to return 13 seized Cepep vehicles

A construction company has been ordered to return 13 vehicles which were seized from the Cepep Company Limited to recoup a $1.5 million debt earlier this year.

Appellate Judges Peter Jamadar, Gregory Smith and Prakash Moosai granted the order at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain on Monday, as they ruled in favour of the State-owned special purpose company in its appeal against Tora Bora Construction and Contractors Limited.

In its oral judgment, the appeal panel ruled that High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo was wrong when she refused to set aside the default judgment granted to Tora Bora last month.

The company had obtained the judgment against Cepep in December last year after it failed to meet a preliminary deadline for the filing of its defence to the claim. The appeal panel ordered the vehicles which were seized by High Court marshals as they levied on Cepep’s Ste Madeleine office on February 16 be released within seven days.

However, the judges refused to order the company to repay the $500,000 paid by Cepep to stop the levy action. They ruled that the money constituted partial payment of the initial $2 million debt which the company claimed it is owed.

The judges also ruled that Cepep had raised a defence with a realistic prospect of success and was able to justify its delay in seeking to set aside the judgment through reasonable explanations provided by its general manager and legal officer.

In the event that the company does not decide to appeal the decision to the Privy Council, the lawsuit will proceed to trial.

The lawsuit centres around a contract awarded to Tora Bora to do remedial works on the St Joseph Health Centre. The company claimed that it was not paid since completing the work in April 2015.

In its defence, the Cepep company is alleging that the company is complicit in acquiring the contract through improper means as it allegedly knew that the proper procedure was not being followed. Cepep is asking the court to deem the contract void and illegal. Tora Bora has denied any wrongdoing and has stated that the contract was legitimate.

Cepep is being represented by Elton Prescott, SC, Philip Lamont and Farai Hove Masaisai. Tora Bora is being represented by Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh and Desiree Sankar.

Source: (Derek Achong)

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