Court: Gov’t must go to trial over schools

The Cayman Islands
Government and its former contractor on the high schools’ construction
project will have to fight out a payment dispute in a full court trial,
according to a preliminary judgment issued earlier this week.

According to the
government, lawyers had applied to the Cayman Islands Grand Court to have claims
made by Tom Jones International tossed without a trial.

Tom Jones is seeking nearly $3 million from the government in a lawsuit for an amount the construction company said it was owed over its previous work on the new John Gray and Clifton Hunter High Schools. 

In its preliminary
judgment – the full text of which has not been released – the court found that
the issues raised by the parties require a full
trial. 

The judge that wrote the
preliminary ruling referred to part of the government’s counterclaim against Tom
Jones International as “forensically embarrassing” Government lawyers said this
is a legal term which means “lacking in detail”. 

According to a statement released Thursday afternoon by the Ministry
of Education: “The government did not feel that it was appropriate to incur the
costs of setting out its counterclaim in full until it was clear that the matter
would go to a full trial. The Court has now found that the issues raised by the
parties do require a full trial and, accordingly, the Government will now
proceed to set out the full details of its claim against TJI. (Tom Jones
International).”

The difficulty with the previous schools contractor involved disputes over some 85 change orders in the project, which totalled more than $17 million, according to Tom Jones International. The Tom Jones contract was cancelled by government late last year and the construction firm sued.

Tom Jones International was also sued by a subcontractor, Caribbean Mechanical, which was seeking more than $2 million for work done on the high school sites through the end of the September 2009. Caribbean Mechanical Chief Executive Alan Roffey has previously said his company was not paid for that work.

Premier McKeeva Bush has said that the wrangling over the schools project delayed planned opening dates of September 2010 for both school campuses.   

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