$400M lawsuit filed against Courtney Benn for botched works on St Roses High

St Roses's High school (Credit Stabroek News)

Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited has been slapped with an over $400  million lawsuit filed against it by the Government of Guyana over botched works on the St Roses High School. The lawsuit was instituted by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall against the construction company as well as CARICOM General Insurance Company. The Statement of Claim was filed on Wednesday.

According to court documents seen by this publication, on August 18, 2018, the Government entered into a written contract with Courtney Benn Contracting Service Limited for the reconstruction of the St. Roses High School on Church Street, Georgetown for $352,709,745. The contract sum was however increased by $59,594,612 to facilitate the cost for the construction of the deep foundation works which included the driving of  224 timber piles in preparation for reconstruction of the school. Court documents said that the contractor received an advanced payment of $118,711.

The construction of the school was to be executed no later than August 23, 2021. The Attorney General submitted that the reconstruction of the school was at all times supervised by Project Manager, Ron Eastman, a civil engineer attached to the Education Ministry who submitted a work plan. In breach of its obligations under the contract, Nandlall contends that Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited failed and/or neglected to complete the scope of works in accordance with the contractual work execution schedule which was submitted.

In August 2020, upon the request of the Education Ministry, Eastman assessed all the works done and concluded that it was in breach of the contract with only nine percent of the works completed in approximately nine months. The only works done were the driving of piles. As a consequence, the Attorney General said he wrote the company informing it that its contract was terminated. Nandlall argues that the failure of the company to execute the works on time resulted in the Government suffering loss and damage.

Having regards to the foregoing, the Government is seeking damages in excess of $100  million; $41, 203,435 in liquidated damages; $105,812,929 being monies due, owed, and payable under the performance bond; $100 million in aggravated damages; an order for restitution in the sum of $67,337,538 constituting advance payment by the Government for works that were not done.

The Government is also asking that interest be applied to all monetary awards for damages, court costs, and any such further or other orders the court deems just in the circumstances.