NHT heads to Privy Council
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
The Government-owned National Housing Trust (NHT) has been granted final leave to go to the United Kingdom Privy Council to challenge a Court of Appeal ruling that it must pay $214 million with compound interest to housing developers Y.P. Seaton & Associates Company.
Leave was granted yesterday by the Court of Appeal.
Last November, the Court of Appeal set aside a Supreme Court ruling and handed down judgment in favour of Y.P. Seaton.
The row between the parties began in 1997 when a housing development project in East Prospect, St Thomas, was closed.
On August 28, 1995, the parties entered into a loan agreement in which NHT was to make available to Y.P. Seaton & Associates approximately $187 million to partially finance the construction of 259 houses in East Prospect on lands owned by Y.P. Seaton. The loan was to be repaid by the sale of completed units or lots to NHT, which would then sell them to its contributors.
Some housing units completed
The project started in November 1995, and in accordance with the provisions of the agreement, completion was to be 20 months after the first advance of funds to Y.P. Seaton. The project was never completed for a variety of reasons and the construction site was closed in October 1997, with some of the housing units completed.
Six months later, the NHT purported to terminate the agreement by notice dated April 29, 1998, setting out the provisions of the agreement upon which it relied. The matter went to arbitration and in July 2005, the arbitrator refused NHT's claim for interest and awarded $24 million to Y.P. Seaton & Associates for profit and risk.
In December 2005, NHT paid the sum awarded, but Y.P. Seaton argued that interest should have been included and filed a claim in the Supreme Court seeking an order that interest be paid on the amount. On January 22, 2007, the Supreme Court remitted the matter to the arbitrator to consider and arbitrate on the issue of interest.