Guyanese company ordered to pay millions to architect firm

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The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Friday ordered the Guyana-based New Building Society Ltd to pay an architect firm more than GUY$15 million (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) for services provided in relation to the construction of its new headquarters.
The CCJ, which is the country’s highest court, discharged a stay of execution that had been granted in a lower court, enabling Rodrigues Architects Ltd to recover the funds owed.
In 2015, the High Court ordered the building society to pay the architects the sum of GUY$15,897,625, plus six per cent interest per annum from 27th November 2008 to 29th September 2015 and thereafter at the rate of four per cent per annum until fully paid.
The High Court also ordered that the building society pay GUY$100,000 for costs and that there be a stay of execution for a period of six months from the date of the order. No judgment, however, has yet been delivered to provide reasons for the order.
New Building Society Ltd applied for a stay of execution of the judgment pending the appeal. J
But another judge granted the stay until the determination of the appeal but ordered that the judgment sum due to Rodrigues Architects Ltd be deposited with the Registrar to be put in an interest-bearing account to await the outcome of the appeal.
Rodrigues Architects Ltd failed to get Guyana’s Court of Appeal to overturn the decision and applied to the CCJ to discharge the stay of execution and obtain the deposited sum.
The CCJ, after reviewing the affidavit evidence, found that the judge had erred in making his orders, and the Court of Appeal had erred in reviewing those orders and letting them stand.
It ruled that no stay should have been granted because it had not been shown that there was a good prospect of the appeal succeeding nor that there was no reasonable probability that the company would be able to repay the money received from the building society if the latter’s appeal succeeded.
Further, the CCJ noted that one of the directors of the company, who has been in business for over 35 years, had been prepared to guarantee that he would personally repay the judgment sum paid to Rodrigues Architects Ltd if the society’s appeal succeeded.
As security, he agreed that would not encumber or dispose of a particular property of his worth over GUY$50 million.
In explaining the principles to be considered when a stay of execution of a judgment involving money is sought, the CCJ emphasised that a stay of execution is the exception rather than the rule and that the onus is on the applicant to make out a case for a stay which required the court to answer the “essential question whether, in all the circumstances, there was a risk of injustice to one party or the other of the parties if it grants or refuses a stay”.
The CJJ noted that in answering this question, four issues had to be considered including whether the defendant applying for a stay can satisfy the court that the appeal has a good prospect of success and wwhether the defendant could establish that he would be ruined or his appeal stifled if forced to pay out the judgment sum immediately, instead of after an unsuccessful appeal.
The CCJ also indicated that a third reason would be whether there was no reasonable probability, if an appeal was successful, that the claimant would be in a position to repay the monies paid by the defendant to satisfy the judgment.
It said that as a last resort, the court also had to take into consideration whether there is a risk that the claimant will be unable to enforce the judgment if a stay is granted and the defendant’s appeal fails, when a payment of all or part of the judgment sum into court may be appropriate.
The CCJ, with the consent of both parties discharged the stay of execution, enabling the sum deposited with the court in Guyana to be released to Rodrigues Architects Ltd and enabling it to execute the judgment against New Building Society Ltd for the balance of monies remaining due under the judgment.

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