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Partners in dispute

Two of the best known names in corporate Barbados are in the middle of legal battles in neighbouring islands.

Barbados TODAY learnt that the St. Lucia arm of leading builder C.O. Williams Construction Company was battling a more than $1.3 million breach of contract lawsuit brought by a business partner there.

Additionally, the Eastern Caribbean business of Barbados’ Simpson Oil Limited and the operator a St. Vincent and the Grenadines service station are confronting each other in the court there.

Sources said both cases date back to disputes originating two to three years ago.

Court documents related to the C.O. Williams Construction (St. Lucia) Limited and Inter Island Dredging Company Limited revealed that the two were parties to a dredging contract which IDC contended was “unlawfully terminated” by COW on March 31, 2009 and for which it was claiming more than $1.3 million “for costs incurred and monies due and owing under the contract, as well as damages, interest and costs for breach of contract”.

C.O. Williams lost an earlier round of the battle two years ago when the St. Lucia court turned down its request for additional information related to the case, after which the construction company appealed.

The original decision was subsequently overturned and the Barbadian-owned enterprise was granted leave to appeal, but is still in the midst of its battle to ensure it does not have to bear the brunt of a substantial monetary judgement.

In the case of SOL, its Eastern Caribbean business is facing a lawsuit from St. Vincent gas station operator Marriaqua Petroleum Cooperative Society over the supply of gasoline and diesel.

In the case, which has reached the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, SOL was recently “required” to carry out maintenance work on equipment at the petrol station, which is the subject of the dispute, which originated in 2010.

The petroleum retailer has been seeking a court injunction mandating SOL to continue supplying gasoline to one 2,000 gallon storage tank at the Marriaqua Petrol Station it has operated since May this year.

In July 2010 SOL hired Petroleum Maintenance Services Limited to test the underground gasoline and diesel tanks at the station, but while the results showed the gasoline tank was “satisfactory”, full tests could not be undertaken because there was evidence of “several leaks visible from the tank top”.

However, additional “independent” testing found no leaks, documents said.

With SOL mandated to carry out maintenance on the tank as the investigations of experts continue, the court will decide whether the regional oil company will have to resume supplying the Vincentian company with gasoline. (SC)

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