THE Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) can strategise but it cannot pull off a ‘smart man’ tactic of making an excuse that the rent it could not pay was due to delayed cabinet approval.
In that light, a High Court judge yesterday ruled against the TTDF and ordered payment of $2 million in arrears of rent for a building it has been occupying in Chaguaramas. The order was made by Justice Frank Seepersad in the San Fernando High Court yesterday, in a claim brought by the Chaguaramas Management Company Ltd.
The company inherited a lease agreement between the Chaguaramas Development Authority and the TTDF, the latter having occupyed a building known as the ‘Guard Room.’ The company wrote to the Ministry of Public Administration about rent increase of $15,000 a month and another increase io $25,000.
In 2008, the ministry made a counter proposal to the company of $5,430 and $9,505. But letter dated November 6, 2015, the Ministry of National Security responded to the company’s pre-action protocol letter, that arrangements were being made to pay rent for the period January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2007.
The case was heard before Justice Frank Seepersad in the San Fernando High Court yesterday, who ruled that it was evident that there was an agreement to pay the increased rent. Just why it was not paid, the judge commented that cabinet approval was sought for seven years to pay the rent but the TTDF remained in occupation of the premises while waiting for those years.
Seepersad said, “The State cannot operate as a smart-man and hide behind the assertaion that the offer for increased rent was subject to cabinet approval. No cabinet approval was obtained for seven years while the TTDF remained in occupation. This court finds that the conduct of the State is reprehensible and serves to undermind the public confidence in the legitimacy of the modus operandi of the State.”