An arbitrator will be appointed to help resolve a dispute between the Airports Authority of T&T (AATT) and Jusamco Pavers Limited over issues with repaving work done in 2011 on the runway of the ANR Robinson International Airport.

In a lengthy judgement at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain yesterday afternoon, High Court Judge James Aboud upheld the AATT’s application to appoint the arbitrator to resolve the almost decade-old dispute. Although Aboud was asked to select the arbitrator from a short-list of two regional and two British retired jurists suggested by the AATT, he chose to allow the parties to agree on their own choice.

Aboud and the AATT’s legal team said they preferred the foreign arbitrators as they had experience in the construction industry and served on the Technology and Construction Court in the United Kingdom.

Senior Counsel Russell Martineau suggested retired Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Judge Rolston Nelson or Jamaican legal luminary Dr Lloyd Barnett as he stated: “We do have people of great calibre right here in the Caribbean”.

After the AATT’s attorney revealed that Nelson had been retained to do work in an unrelated case, Barnett was selected as the preferred candidate. In the event that Barnett is unavailable, the parties are expected to approach Law Association President Douglas Mendes, SC.

During the hearing, Aboud agreed to stay his decision to give Jusamco an opportunity to appeal.

According to evidence in the case, the parties entered into a $165 million agreement for the project in February 2011. Several months after the site was handed over to the AATT, its engineer allegedly pointed out that there were issues with bitumen deposits on sites in the runway.

While Jusamco denied any wrongdoing, it allegedly volunteered to do remedial works on the identified sites due to its long and healthy business relationship with the AATT.

In 2015, issues with the runaway allegedly worsened and AATT appointed a new engineer who claimed Jusamco was responsible for the defective work. Jusamco’s performance bond was withheld and AATT suggested arbitration. The remedial work was eventually done by a third party.

In his judgement, Aboud rejected Jusamco’s allegation that the lawsuit fell outside the four-year limitation period for civil claims as he noted that the AATT’s decision was delayed by Jusamco’s offer to do the repairs. He also rejected Jusamco’s claim that the delayed arbitration would be prejudicial as it could no longer take action against subcontractors who may have been responsible for the faulty work.

Aboud said Jusamco should have considered taking such action while it was voluntarily repairing the issues.