Derek Achong

The owner of a beauty salon at a hotel in Port-of-Spain has been ordered to pay over $80,000 in compensation to a project management company owned by a friend, who had agreed to advance her the money to set up the business.

Delivering an oral ruling after a brief virtual trial, High Court Judge Frank Seepersad ordered the compensation as he partially upheld the claim brought by Details Integrated Solutions Limited against Sharmila Dippoosingh.

While the company was claiming almost twice the figure, Seepersad said it was only entitled to the sums it expended on construction and outfitting costs on the store and not for design and project management services as claimed.

Seepersad noted that based on Dippoosingh’s friendship with the company’s director Vaughn Halliday the parties failed to properly outline the terms of the agreement before going through with the work.

Seepersad said the facts of the case demonstrated the truism of the local saying “friend and business don’t mix”.

According to the evidence in the case, Halliday claimed that in late 2018 he held discussions with Dippoosingh over assisting in setting up the salon.

Halliday claimed that Dipposingh asked him to facilitate the construction at the site estimated at $50,000 at the time, with the understanding that she would repay the money at 10 percent interest over two years.

Halliday also claimed that he filed the lawsuit after Dipposingh failed to make any monthly installments and that she refused to allow him to remove salon equipment which was supplied in addition to the construction costs.

While under cross-examination, Halliday admitted that some of the equipment supplied to Dipposingh came from a barber shop he previously operated.

In the claim, the company was also seeking payment for design work and a 3D model of the salon which it claimed was done by fellow director Vicki Fernandes at Dippoosingh’s request.

Seepersad did not agree with that aspect of the claim as he said there was no agreement between the parties for this.

As part of his judgment, Seepersad ordered Dippoosingh to pay the company’s legal costs.

Dippoosingh was represented by Anthony Manwah while Lee Merry represented the company.