1494341
High Court Judge James Aboud

Lawyers representing a group of contractors in a controversial lawsuit over contracts awarded in the run-up to the 2015 general election have asked a judge to defer his preliminary rulings in the case to after the general election on August 10.

In a letter sent to High Court Judge James Aboud, last Friday, lawyers representing Fides, TN Ramnauth and Company Ltd (TN Ramnauth), Mootilal Ramhit and Sons Contracting Ltd (Ramhit) and Kall Company Ltd (Kallco) cited prejudicial comments during the election season as justification for postponing his decisions, which are scheduled to be delivered on Thursday.

In the applications Aboud is scheduled to rule on, the contractors are calling on the Estate Management and Business Development Company Ltd (EMBD), which they sued for their payments, to provide additional particulars on its (EMBD) counter-claim against them, another contractor, three of its former officials and former Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal.

They are also calling for the counter-claim to be struck out if the particulars are not provided.

In the letter, attorney Karina Singh claimed that both the People’s National Movement (PNM) and United National Congress (UNC) made inflammatory public statements on the alleged strength or weakness of the case.

Calling for the postponement, Singh said: “This is because the delivery of the judgement prior to the election date, whichever side succeeds in the applications before the court is likely to bring the administration of justice into political controversy.”

Despite the suggestion, Singh suggested that her team has total confidence in the independence and impartiality of the court.

Guardian Media could not confirm whether they had received a response or if Aboud had agreed to the adjournment, up to late yesterday.

The cartel claim centres around 10 contracts for the rehabilitation of roads in Caroni, which were granted to five contractors in September 2015.

Namalco, the fifth contractor, filed separate but similar applications, which are to be determined by Aboud.

Moonilal, former EMBD CEO Gary Parmassar, former divisional managers Madhoo Balroop and Andrew Walker are listed as parties to the claim along with the contractors and are accused of conspiring together for them to be awarded the contracts. They have denied any wrongdoing.

The companies are also being represented by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, Jagdeo Singh, and Kiel Taklalsingh. EMBD is being represented by David Phillips, QC, and Jason Mootoo.