Rubis and gas station operator to square off in court

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With an injunction in place, service station operator Bernard Percival and the French energy giant, Rubis, are hoping that legal action, initiated by the businessman, will be heard soon in the High Court.
Percival is trying to stop the company permanently, from evicting him from the Fort Road gas station which his family, beginning with his father, has run for almost 50 years.
Late last year when Percival’s contract was up for renewal, Rubis gave notice that he would have to vacate the premises by January 1, 2017.
Since December 2016, a court ruling has temporarily thwarted the energy company’s plan, giving the businessman interim relief.
Percival and the Rubis CEO, Mauricio Nicholls told OBSERVER media they are eager for a court date to be set so the matter can be “over and done with”.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Hugh Marshall Jr, said the French company did not contest the injunction, but has opposed the substantive claim that the family has an “equity in the continuation of a lease arrangement”.
According to the attorney-at-law, the Percivals argue that they were assured they would be able to operate their business, so long as they paid their rent in accordance with the contract.
Marshall alleged that the “arrangement” dates back to Texaco/Chevron West Indies Limited which sold its Antigua operations to Rubis in 2011.
He also explained that the Percival family had borrowed “substantial” sums which it invested in merging its adjoining property with that of Rubis, to create one service centre.
The eviction looms even though the local businessman had agreed to pay the several increases demanded by the French conglomerate. And in addition to the renegotiation of the contract, the operator also wants the court to order Rubis to rescind the letter of notice it issued.
Marshall told this newspaper that he believes the recent action taken by Rubis is in retaliation to Percival’s inability to get the government to increase the wholesale fuel margins for Rubis.
“Rubis had, over time, made representations to Percival, seeking his assistance to get the government to allow them a higher profit margin. He is an ambassador and he has not assisted. Now they want to bring their relationship of over 50 years to an end,” the attorney reasoned.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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