Judgment reserved in TCL case against Guyana Govt

Judgment reserved in TCL case against Guyana Govt
Published: 29 January 2010

Judgment has been reserved in the matter involving Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) and its subsidiary, TCL Guyana Incorporated (TGI), following hours of legal arguments at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) against the Government of Guyana.

The hearing took place on Tuesday and was heard before CCJ President Chief Justice Michael de la Bastide.

TCL took the Guyana Government to task, moreso, the office of the Attorney General of Guyana, requesting that the CCJ hold Guyana in contempt of court for failing to implement the Common External Tariff (CET) on cement from non-Caricom sources, as ordered by the court.

Arguments were heard on March 31 and April 1, last year, where TCL challenged the decision of Secretary General of Caricom, Edwin Carrington, to grant the suspension of the CET on cement in Jamaica and also the decision of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to suspend the CET on cement in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.

During the case tenure it was noted that Carrington received a formal request from the State of Jamaica for the suspension of the CET on cement for the period September 10, 2008 - September 9, 2009.

After seeking feedback from other Member States, Carrington received a ’no objections’ from the competent authority in Trinidad and Tobago and authorisation for the suspension of the CET was subsequently granted.

TCL, however, complained that it was not consulted before the decision was made.

In all, TCL had claimed for compensation for lost of income suffered in its capacity as 80 per cent shareholder in TCL Guyana subsidiary in the amount of US$532,214 for the period January to December 2007 and continuing, while the subsidiary is claiming compensation for lost profits suffered as a direct result of Guyana’s failure to implement the CET on building cement in the sum of US$2,084,540 for the period of January to December 2007 and continuing.

In delivering its judgment then, the CCJ declared that Carrington was wrong to accept as a sufficient answer to his inquiry, the response of Trinidad and Tobago that it had ’no objections’ to Jamaica’s request.

The CCJ noted that though that while the procedure ’was wrong,’ it could not quash Carrington’s decision.