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Monday 20 November 2017
Crime and Court

State seeks to set aside ‘cartel’ judgment

State seeks to set aside ‘cartel’ judgment

The State is seeking to set aside an almost $3 million judgment awarded to one of the construction companies implicated in alleged cartel-like behaviour in the award of contracts for one state agency.

A application has been filed by the Office of the Attorney General to set aside the judgment awarded to Mootilal Rahit and Sons Contracting Ltd for $3.4 million. Hearing of the application is expected to take place this morning at the San Fernando High Court before Justice Frank Seepersad.

The attorney for Ramhit and Sons applied for judgment in default in July after the State failed to put in an appearance by July 10, and on July 25 the judge granted judgement without a hearing.

On October 12, the State sought to have the judge set aside his order.

According to Ramhit’s attorneys, the order for judgment should not be set aside, since the non-appearance of the State’s representatives to the lawsuit against the Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL) and the Attorney General were “inexcusable and unsatisfactory.”

The attorneys of the law firm Girwar and Deonarine, who are representing the contractor, also said they were not told of any difficulties experienced by the State’s attorneys in appearing in court when the matter came up for hearing in court.

In support of its application to have the judgment set aside, attorney for the Chief State Solicitor’s Department Avaria Niles, in an affidavit, said after being assigned the Ramhit case, she was granted 20 days’ emergency leave. She said she cannot say why the file was not reassigned to someone else in her absence, and it was during this time that Ramhit applied for the judgment in default, which was granted.

Niles said the State only found out about the court order on September 20. As she urged the court to consider the State’s application, Niles said she believed it would be “in the interest of justice and the public interest as a whole” that the arguments of the State be considered in an effort to “protect the public purse from being unfairly depleted especially during a period of great economic need.”

The EFCL also did not enter a defence.

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