Although scheduled to begin on Wednesday, the trial stemming from Precision Woodworking’s suit against Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited for alleged breach of contract, has once again been delayed.
While the court was ready to proceed on Wednesday morning, lawyers for the defendants—the bank and Kashir Khan in his capacity as receiver for Precision—asked the court to first await rulings in interlocutory appeals which they have filed before the Full Court.
Attorney Nigel Hughes, who is representing Precision (the plaintiff), had indicated to the court that he too was ready to move forward with the trial.
There were, however, lengthy submissions by Senior Counsel Robin Stoby and Rafiq Khan on behalf of the defendants, who posited that all proceedings be halted, pending the ruling of the Full Court, which is set to be delivered on February 19.
While Justice Navindra Singh granted the request, he noted that he will proceed with trial thereafter, irrespective of the rulings.
He has adjourned the matter until February 26th for reports and fixtures for trial thereafter.
After restoring several parts of Precision‘s statement of claim, which was filed in September, 2012, Justice Singh had set October 16th, of last year for commencement of the trial but it did not start.
The defendants, through their attorneys, had appealed Justice Singh’s ruling restoring the stricken parts of the plaintiff’s original claim.
Former High Court judge Justice Rishi Persaud, before whom the matter was initially being heard, had made an order in March of 2016 for a number of reliefs sought by the plaintiffs to be struck out.
Also before the Full Court is an appeal by the defendants to an inspection order granted by Justice Singh on January 5th for the plaintiffs to inspect records of the defendant bank, pursuant to its suit.
In its appeal, that bank argued that it was unaware that Precision had even made such a request to the court, while adding that it received no notice of the application for such an order and that it had been denied an opportunity to make important submissions.
Though the appeal is extant, however, the inspection has since been executed. Documents were examined on January 25th, at the bank’s Waterloo and New Market streets Head Office.
Precision had argued that an appeal does not operate to stay any order of the High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature.
In its statement of claim, Precision had said that owing to difficulties by which it was overcome, it was invited to, and attended a meeting convened by the bank on June 30, 2011.
According to the plaintiff, prior to the meeting, it had borrowed from the bank and had repaid principal in full of about $513,000,000 and had paid interest in excess of $327,000,000 and was always considered by the institution as an “excellent customer.”
At the date of that meeting, Precision claimed that it was not in arrears.
At that said meeting, the plaintiff said its indebtedness was principal $406,553,074 and interest $10,613,224 regarding an agreement of sale with Torginol Paints Incorporated for lots 21 and 32 of the property in transport No. 490/2008 for the sum of $230,000,000.
Precision said that before the meeting, its directors had informed the bank of their efforts to find a purchaser for part of that property, to which the bank had no objections.
Its statement of claim details that it thereafter accepted $30,000,000 from Torginol Paints as a deposit on the sale, which was then handed over to, and encashed by the bank.
According to Precision, it was only after the said cheque was handed over that Kashir Khan (the first-named defendant), in his capacity as receiver for Precision, was introduced to its directors by the bank, as having been appointed receiver of the company under the existing debentures.
In its statement of claim, Precision advanced as unlawful, among other things, the bank’s appointment of Khan as receiver.
The plaintiff has also argued that the receiver failed to act honestly and in good faith in dealing with its property “in a commercially reasonably manner” and added that its assets were unlawfully disposed of.
It says it has suffered loss and damage as a result of the actions of the defendants.
It has also advanced that the bank breached the provisions of the Financial Institutions Act by attributing interest to the plaintiff company’s outstanding indebtedness, when it was not permitted to do so.
The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the appointment of Khan as receiver for Precision Woodworking Limited was unlawful, null, void and ultra vires to the Companies Act 1991.
It also seeks a declaration that the receiver did not act in its best interest, given his role as agent of its company, nor did he exercise reasonable care in his dealings with its assets.
A declaration is also being sought that the receiver has not acted and or conducted himself as the appointed receiver of Precision in accordance with the Companies Act 1991.
Apart from Precision, the other plaintiffs are listed as Ronald Bulkan and Rustum Bulkan
Republic Bank is represented by Stoby, while the receiver is being represented by Senior Counsel Khan.