Appeal Court reserves decision on contractor’s appeal

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A quarry contractor whose contract was terminated by Readymix Ltd in 2013 has appealed a judge’s dismissal of its breach of contract claim.

The appeal of Woodford Construction came up for hearing on Friday, before Justices of Appeal Mira Dean-Armorer, Vasheist Kokaram and Malcolm Holdip who at the end of an all-day hearing, reserved their decision to a date to be fixed.

Woodford Construction appealed the November 22, 2018, decision of Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams who, in her ruling, held that the contractor’s contract with Readymix was not prematurely and wrongfully terminated.

In her decision, Quinlan-Williams held she was satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that Readymix had good cause to terminate the contract, dismissing Woodford Contruction’s claim for damages.

In Woodford Construction’s claim, the company argued it had a contract with Readymix for the excavation and payment of high-quality pitrun from its Bermudez Quarry.

Readymix alleged it was not satisfied Woodford verified the actual quantity of pitrun extracted and removed from the quarry between the period November 2013-July 2015.

Woodford was required to pay Readymix $21 plus VAT for a cubic yard of pitrun and excavated approximately 214,332 cubic yards during the period in question.

In 2015, Readymix advised of the termination of the contract, giving no other reason than it had “embarked on a comprehensive review of its operations.” The termination notice also said the company has decided that it would be in the best interest of all stakeholders to discontinue the current structure.

In defence of the claim, Readymix maintained there was an implied term in its contract that entitled it to terminate with immediate effect if pitrun was “carried past” Readymix’s checker without stopping for it to be verified.

The company asserted that on three occasions, Woodford’s truck left the quadrant without being checked and this breach amounted to a “theft of Readymix’s pitrun supply.”

In arguing the appeal for Woodford, senior counsel Anand Ramlogan argued that Readymix kept changing the goal post looking for a way out in an attempt to justify its actions.

He said at first they said the termination was because of “reorganisation” of its operations, then it alleged the contract was illegal since Woodford did not have a mining licence.

He said Woodford was not to blame since there was no need for Woodford to have a separate mining licence.

He added that it was only after the Mexican-owned Cemex Ltd took over Readymix’s operations, did the company allege his client was operating illegally.

Ramlogan said there was “not a single line” in the judge’s decision to show she paid regard to the constant shifting of Readymix’s case.

He also complained of the finding of conspiracy in relation to the alleged theft of pitrun.

“She made a judgment on a case not argued or pleaded.”

In resisting the appeal, Readymix’s attorney Jason Mootoo maintained the company was entitled to terminate the contract and the judge was entitled to consider the admissible evidence before her.

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