Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 15th 2015 Contents A3
March 15, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Contractor China Jiangsu International Corp
T&T Ltd has issued a pre-action protocol letter
threatening litigation against the Las Alturas
Towers Commission of Enquiry (CoE) if the
firm is not removed as a party in the probe
into the failed multi-million dollar project.
The CoE could be halted until the contractor s
lawsuit is heard should China Jiangsu make good
on its threat to file for judicial review of the
commission s order making it a participant in
The commission has already begun taking
evidence in the probe into the structural failure
of the $40 million Morvant housing project and
is expected to continue hearings until March 20
at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Henry Street,
On Wednesday, the contractor, through attor-
neys Alexander, Jeremie and Company---former
Ag John Jeremie s firm---issued the four-page
letter to the commission claiming that the
Mustapha Ibrahim-chaired CoE erred in law
when it made the contractor a party to the pro-
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained
by the Sunday Guardian, the lawyers claim that
by order dated January 26, 2015, the commission
"purported" to make China Jiangsu a party to
However, the lawyers for the contractor con-
tend that China Jiangsu "is not an entity men-
tioned in the Warrant of His Excellency which
was gazetted in an extraordinary issue of the
T&T Gazette on 3 December, 2014."
The CoE is expected to enquire into "the
entire process which led to the construction of
the Las Alturas towers at Lady Young Gardens,
Morvant, and all other acts, matters or decisions
done or undertaken incidental to and including
the construction" of the project.
According to the pre-action protocol letter
China Jiangsu is also "currently involved in a
private law contractual dispute with one of the
entities named in the warrant (HDC) which will
impact on our client s ability to participate in
the proceedings of your commission."
The commission, which also comprises com-
missioners Dr Myron Wing-Sang Chin and
Anthony Farrell, had invited China Jiangsu, the
contractor that worked on the Las Alturas project
and which the evidence showed submitted the
lowest tender, to be party to the enquiry by letter
dated January 20, 2015.
However, China Jiangsu subsequently respond-
ed and declined the opportunity to be a party
to the enquiry.
Commission attorney contends China Jiangsu
should participate in CoE
On January 26, Pamela Elder, SC, who is rep-
resenting the commission, together with Jagdeo
Singh, instructed by attorney Alvin Pariagsingh,
made an application to have China Jiangsu made
a party to the enquiry.
She pointed out that there were several pieces
of evidence in the commission s possession
which would lead to the inevitable conclusion
that China Jiangsu would have an interest in the
Among those, Elder contended, was the fact
that China Jiangsu was the contractor for both
phases of the Las Alturas contract and the cor-
poration was paid in excess of $65 million for
the construction and design of buildings H and
I which had to be demolished.
Ibrahim agreed with Elder s submission and
granted an order making the contractor a party.
Commission secretary Laraine Lutchmedial
dispatched a letter notifying the contractor that
they were made a party to the CoE.
The Sunday Guardian understands, from legal
sources, that the commission made all disclosures
to China Jiangsu.
Commission order prompts flurry of letters
Alexander, Jeremie and Company, by letter
dated February 6, wrote to the CoE and con-
tended that "there is no express power contained
in the Commissions of Enquiry Act which
empowers a commission to add parties to the
President s warrant."
The lawyers requested an indication of the
legal basis on which the commission issued
the order to China Jiangsu.
This prompted a flurry of letters between
lawyers, which culminated on Wednesday with
the pre-action protocol letter.
Lutchmedial, in a February 24 letter, said,
"whilst a literal interpretation of the Act does
not reveal an express power to make orders
declaring persons and/or entities parties, a pur-
posive construction to Section 10 of the Act
allows the commission to make such an order."
The commission secretary contended that
the overriding duty of fairness which the com-
mission owes to people and/or entities "caught
within the provisions of Section 10, makes it
imperative, that the commission accords full
participant status to persons and/or entities
whose conduct is the subject of enquiry or who
are in any way implicated or concerned in the
matter under enquiry."
She reminded China Jiangsu s lawyers that
their client was the contractor for both phases
of the project and was responsible for construc-
tion of blocks A to I at Las Alturas.
"The decision to award to your client the
status of full participant or party standing is
also in keeping with the duties of fairness,"
Lutchmedial added in her letter.
She said, in the letter, that being made party
to the CoE allows China Jiangsu "to be involved
from the very inception of the enquiry and to
cross-examine witnesses and make submissions.
Your client would therefore be able to advance
challenges to the evidence."
By letter dated February 27, Alexander, Jeremie
and Company wrote to the commission respond-
ing to Lutchmedial.
The lawyers contended that China Jiangsu
had not sought leave of the commission to be
represented nor had it claimed the benefit of
entitlement to counsel afforded by Section 10
of the Act.
They again reminded the commission that
China Jiangsu was engaged in a private law con-
tractual dispute with HDC.
On March 2 when the first evidential hearings
of the CoE commenced, neither a representative
nor counsel for the contractor appeared at the
China Jiangsu threatens to
take Las Alturas CoE to court
...as firm resists involvement in enquiry
Age no barrier for Marjorie, 73---Page A7 PNM Arima holds wake for party---Page A17
Alexander, Jeremie and Company, in its
pre-action protocol letter signed by Raisa
Caesar, warned the CoE that it had advised
China Jiangsu that it could institute
proceedings for judicial review on the basis
that the decision of the commission was
"unauthorised and contrary to law and in
excess of the jurisdiction of your
commission since it was not based on a
statutory power granted or implied by the
Commissions of Enquiry Act."
The lawyers contended that "the
decision to make our client a party to these
proceedings was an unreasonable, irregular
and an improper exercise of discretion in
that your commission used its power to
regulate its procedure in a manner that
was in fact an abuse of power."
The commission has 14 days to respond
to China Jiangsu's letter---that is around
Alexander, Jeremie and Company, in the
letter, contended that should the
commission fail to respond to the demand
to rescind its decision China Jiangsu "shall
issue proceedings" against the CoE
without further notice.
The contractor will be seeking reliefs,
that is, a declaration that the decision to
add China Jiangsu as a party to the CoE
into the construction of the Las Alturas
Towers is unreasonable, illegal, null and
void and of no effect; an order certiorari
quashing the decision of the commission;
costs; and any other reliefs the court may
Hearing of the CoE is expected to
JUDICIAL REVIEW IS AN OPTION
Mascara from the Girls Talk make-up line that was seized by police after cocaine was
discovered concealed in them. (See Page A9). PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
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