Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 29th 2015 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 29, 2015
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Attorneys representing former
board members of the University
of T&T (UTT) have come to an
agreement with the university
over legal costs arising from a
lawsuit over the failed multi-mil-
lion dollar lease of a guest house
in Aripo, which was withdrawn
prematurely earlier this month.
The deal was struck by attor-
neys representing Prof Ken Julien,
Dr Rene Monteil, Ravindra Nath-
Maharaj, Scott Hilton-Clarke and
Errol Pilgrim during a brief hearing
on the issue before Justice Vasheist
Kokaram in the Port-of-Spain
High Court yesterday.
An agreement on the issue did
not appear plausible at the start
of the hearing as lawyers repre-
senting the former board members
held firm to their estimates of the
legal costs incurred by their clients
for defending the lawsuit.
Kokaram intervened and asked
the parties to reconsider their
positions to avoid a lengthy
After holding brief talks out of
court, the lawyers returned and
informed Kokaram that the issue
had been resolved.
While the details of the settle-
ment and the total cost to the uni-
versity were not revealed during
the hearing, the T&T Guardian
understands that the agreed sums
were less than those initially being
claimed by the board members.
During the hearing Kokaram
also advised the current board
members to consider apologising
to their predecessors for the law-
suit in a bid to convince the former
board to refrain from filing a sep-
arate lawsuit against their former
employers for malicious prosecu-
Stating that both groups of
board members clearly had the
same intention, that is, to develop
the tertiary institution, Kokaram
suggested that discussions
between the two would only serve
to strengthen the organisation and
ensure continuity of projects.
Senior Counsel John Jeremie,
who represented Julien, agreed
with Kokaram s suggestion as he
said: "An apology will go a long
way to convince him (Julien) to
put this whole incident down to
an overeager and capricious act
by the (former) attorney general."
While Julien and the board
members would welcome an apol-
ogy, Jeremie said, in the absence
of one they reserved their right to
file a claim seeking compensation
for damage to their reputations.
Although UTT s corporate sec-
retary Dorwin Manzano was pres-
ent in court for the hearing, no
agreement was made in regard to
UTT was represented by Gerald
Ramdeen and Varun Debideen.
The directors legal team included
Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes
and attorneys Larry Lalla, Kerwyn
Garcia, Stuart Young, Ravi Heffes-
Doon and Anthony Bullock.
State settles former
UTT directors' claims
Postal workers protest stalled negotiations for salary increases outside the
TTPost Centre on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
ABOUT THE CASE
The lawsuit arose out of a
forensic audit on UTT ordered by
former attorney general Anand
Ramlogan shortly after the 2010
general election. It is one of several
lawsuits filed against former board
members who served under the
previous PNM administration and
is the first to reach the trial stage.
UTT initiated the lawsuit in
September 2012, claiming the
former board had breached its
fiduciary duty and failed to
exercise due diligence in the sub-
leasing of the guest house from
Consolidated Services Ltd (CSL)
for a five-year renewable lease at a
monthly rent of $50,000.
It contended that the board
failed to act on the advice of the
university's legal team, which in
2006 discovered the owner of the
property could not enter into the
deal as the 150 acres of land the
property is on was derived from a
lease from the Government which
Former director Giselle Marfleet
was initially listed in the case.
However, the lawsuit was
withdrawn against her at the start
of the trial last week.
In their defence the directors
stated they were not aware of the
issue with the land when the deal
was signed and they took steps to
purchase the property after it was
As a secondary issue, UTT was
suing Julien for allegedly
authorising the temporary
accommodation of the Rev Juliana
Pena, the former spiritual adviser
to former prime minister Patrick
Manning, at the facility although
she was not a guest of the
This claim collapsed on trial
when the guest house
administrator, Arlene Jute, testified
that private customers and UTT
staff were charged the same rates
for use of the facility.
Although she did not provide
financial records, Jute also claimed
that the facility was profitable to
the university. This was in direct
contradiction of the UTT's main
contention that the facility had
caused it a $10.4 million loss
during its operations. The case was
withdrawn by Attorney General
Garvin Nicholas, after Jute's
testimony earlier this month.
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