TCL loses cement case

TCL loses cement case
Published: 11 August 2009

The parent company of Jamaica’s sole maker of cement has lost its legal fight in the Caribbean’s appellate court after mounting a vigourous claim against importation of cement into Jamaica.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled in favour of CARICOM in the case brought by Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) against the regional body over a decision to suspend the Common External Tariff (CET) for cement imported into Jamaica last year.

In the judgement handed down Monday morning, the CCJ dismissed the application brought by TCL to overturn the decision of CARICOM’S Secretary General Dr. Edwin Carrington as well as a subsequent decision by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED).

TCL, which is the parent company for Jamaica’s Caribbean Cement Company Limited, had brought the action after Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Karl Samuda extended the waiver in September 2008.

This was the second waiver granted by the Government, following similar action in 2006, in light of a shortfall in local production.

The CET was suspended in 2006 to beef up supplies after thousands of tons of faulty cement manufactured by the local company Carib Cement had to be recalled.

TCL, in arguments before the court, had contended that the two decisions to authorise the suspension of the tariff by the CARICOM’s Secretary General and COTED were irrational and illegal.

The Trinidad based company stated that it was in a position to satisfy more than 75 per cnet of regional demand for cement.

It therefore asked the court to make the suspension null and void.

However the five-member panel of the CCJ opined in the ruling that in all the circumstances, there was no basis to find that the Secretary General or COTED exceeded their authority in granting the suspension of the tariff on imported cement.

As a result the Micheal de la Bastide-led court dismissed all claims made for reliefe made by Trinidad Cement Limited.

The court however, ordered that CARICOM should bear one half of the costs to TCL.

Meanwhile, in an immediate response, Jamaica’s Deputy Solicitor General Dr Kathy Ann-Brown expressed delight at the CCJ.

Dr. Brown told RJR News that the Government’s legal team expected the court to dismiss the claim.

"The court has expressly found that COTED acted quite within its power and has found no fault on the action of the Government of Jamaica. There’s some issues in the judgment that we need to look more closely at but our initial reaction is quite favourable," she said.