State loses US$10m appeal over maintenance of helicopter fleet

The Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al (AG) has lost its ap­peal over a US$10 mil­lion law­suit for the main­te­nance of the Air Guard’s he­li­copter fleet. 

De­liv­er­ing an oral de­ci­sion at the end of a brief ap­peal at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain yes­ter­day, Ap­pel­late Judges Gre­go­ry Smith and An­dre Des Vi­gnes ruled that High Court Judge Ava­son Quin­lan-Williams was cor­rect to award a de­fault judg­ment to Cob­ham He­li­copter Ser­vices Lim­it­ed in May.  

Smith and Des Vi­gnes agreed with Quin­lan-Williams’ de­ci­sion to re­ject claims from the AG’s Of­fice that the con­tract was not valid at it did not re­ceive ap­proval from the Cen­tral Ten­ders Board. 

Both judges agreed that the con­tract was ex­empt as it fell un­der Sec­tion 20A (1F) of the Cen­tral Ten­ders Board Act, which does not re­quire board in­volve­ment for goods and ser­vices to be pro­vid­ed to the T&T De­fence Force, with Gov­ern­ment ap­proval. 

They ruled that even if the con­tract was not valid, the State was still ob­lig­at­ed to pay as it had ac­cept­ed goods and ser­vices which it had re­quest­ed. 

“Once you ben­e­fit­ed, you must pay,” Smith said. 

As a re­sult of the de­ci­sion, the State was or­dered to pay the Unit­ed King­dom-based com­pa­ny US$10,638,000, as well as its le­gal costs for bring­ing the law­suit. 

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