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Tuesday 17 September 2019
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‘No authority to stop levy’

Contractor threatens to sue court registrar over Junior Sammy

CONTRACTOR Western General Contractors (WGC) has threatened to take legal action against the registrar of the Supreme Court for stopping a levy on mega contractor Junior Sammy Contractors (JSC) and its subsidiary Jusamco Pavers (JP) on Tuesday.

Attorneys for WGC sent a pre-action protocol letter to the registrar on Wednesday, questioning the authority to stop the levy and threatening legal action.

According to attorney Alvin Pariagsingh, who represents WGC, an application for a stay of a judge’s order does not prevent a party from enforcing judgment granted in its favour.

In March, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh ordered JSC and its subsidiary to pay to WGC $4.2 million for work on several projects.

On Tuesday, the company sought to enforce the judgment and at 6 am, police and a marshal of the court moved onto JSC’s property at Sum Sum Hill, Claxton Bay, locking down the entire compound.

The marshal and WGC’s lawyers left empty-handed after a deputy registrar told them JSC and JP had filed an application for a stay and it was “the registrar’s policy not to execute a levy when there is a pending application for a stay and to abort the levy.”

Pariagsingh said up to the time of the levy, they were not served with any application for a stay and were “unaware that such application was pending so as to trigger this alleged policy.”

“The intervention by the deputy registrar to stop the execution of this levy on the basis of this alleged policy is curious and a cause for concern.

“I am advised that such a policy (if it exists) is illegal and unconstitutional.

“There is no provision in the Civil Proceedings Rules (as amended) to this effect and the jurisdiction of the registrar is circumscribed by the restricted powers conferred by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act,” the attorney wrote.

He said he had received instructions to file a claim challenging the validity of the alleged policy on the grounds that it was ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional.

“The execution of the claimant’s levy could have only been halted pursuant to an order made by a court of competent jurisdiction and the office of the registrar has no jurisdiction in law to make such an order.

“This means that the registrar also does not possess the power and authority to devise a policy that would circumvent the restriction of its jurisdiction. “In other words, the registrar cannot enlarge her jurisdiction by devising an administrative policy that is inconsistent with the limited powers given by law,” the pre-action letter said.

The attorney has asked the registrar to respond within seven days. “This is a serious matter, the alleged policy is plainly illegal and would affect other litigants and the matters complained of herein have the potential to bring the administration of justice into disrepute,” Pariagsingh said.

According to the judgment, SGC filed a claim for money owed in the sum of $3.2 million for work on several construction contracts from December 2013-February 2015, including Phase 2 of the Diego Martin Highway project, the Charlieville overpass, Nu-Iron, Point Lisas, Phoenix Park Gas Processors and C3 Centre at Corinth.

Invoices were submitted and some of them were paid in full; partial payments were made for others and 21 were not paid.

In a counter-claim, which was dismissed, JSC claimed defective work, use of sub-standard material and poor site management which caused excessive delay and led to losses for having to redo work at several of the projects.

In its claim, WGC pleaded that concerns about the quality of work were never raised with its directors, and denied that its invoices were inflated or that it colluded with one of JSC’s workers to inflate orders.

In his ruling, Boodoosingh said he accepted SGC’s case and evidence and said JSC failed to provide evidence to support its counter-claim.

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