Legal wrangle over acquired Toolie Persaud property ends
July 15, 2004
THE legal wrangle over the sum to be paid for the Toolsie Persaud Limited (TPL) Water Street, Georgetown land, on which vendors have been selling since the Government acquired it in 2001, has ended.
The Court of Appeal yesterday agreed that enough compensation had not been granted by the High Court and varied that order, increasing the award from $260M to $330M.
Allowing the appeal by TPL, Chancellor Desiree Bernard and other Justices of Appeal Nandram Kissoon and Ian Chang compensated the appellant for expenses incurred when preparing the site for the intended construction by that company.
Justice Bernard said, taking into account all the issues involved, it was a reasonable amount and awarded taxed costs including for two counsel.
The ruling climaxed some two and a half hours of lively interaction between the Bench and the Bar as lawyers on both sides argued their points forcefully.
At one stage, during sharp exchanges between Senior Counsel Rex McKay, for TPL and Doodnauth Singh, representing himself as Attorney General (AG), Chancellor Bernard admonished them to conduct themselves in a fitting manner.
The decision, in favour of TPL, surrounded arguments about if the lower Court had paid enough attention to the issue of compensation.
Earlier, Mr. McKay, who was associated with third Senior Counsel Edward Lukchoo, attacked the appealed judgement, saying the trial judge went astray and submitted that if the appellate Court found the award was inadequate or arbitrary, it could intervene.
McKay said the judge at first instance heard evidence from two experts on the evaluation, accepting one and disregarding the other, on opposite sides, without reasons that he was under a duty to give.
Justice Chang asked whether it was a situation where the matter should be sent back for reconsideration and, after McKay said that would not help, Justice Kissoon enquired if the sitting Court had evidence on which to form a different opinion.
Eventually Mr. Singh, who had contended that compensation was not a live issue and was not challenged in the Court below, conceded that the appeal should be allowed to let a High Court judge take fresh evidence on that question.
However, Chancellor Bernard pointed out that, although the Court had the power to call witnesses at this stage, it would mean going through the whole process again.
Justice Bernard said, in the interest of justice and because of the urgency of the matter, the Court would proceed to make the order and did so, after getting the reaction of lawyers for the appellant and respondent.
Originally, TPL had questioned the constitutionality of the acquisition of Mud Lots 49 to 52 in Water Street after negotiations for the purchase broke down.
During the trial, though, the issue of compensation also became a focal point on which the judge ruled, as well.