Cobham Awarded $10 Million in TTAG Settlement from Government After Legal Battle

The Trinidad and Tobago Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al lost its final ap­peal over a US$10 mil­lion law­suit filed by Cobham relating to the company’s service provisions that provided crew, training and main­te­nance of the now permanently grounded Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard (TTAG) he­li­copter fleet.

Ap­pel­late Judges Gre­go­ry Smith and An­dre Des Vi­gnes ruled in favor of Cobham, backing a previous High Court ruling by Judge Ava­son Quin­lan-Williams that issued judg­ment in favor of Cob­ham He­li­copter Ser­vices Lim­it­ed in May.

The TT AG’s Of­fice had argued that the initial con­tract was not valid at it did not re­ceive ap­proval from the Cen­tral Ten­ders Board, which was proven to be an invalid defense based on an exemption contained in the nations Central Tenders Board Act that states TT Defense Force goods and services are exempted from requiring approval.

The TT AG’s office had filed two continuance requests in the suit and was seeking a third, blaming a facility move that happened earlier in the year as their reason for not being ready to defend the case. The judgement was made after refusal of the third continuance request, ordering the state to pay UK based Cobham US$10,638,000, and all subsequent legal costs associated with the defendants case filing to recoup the money owed.

In March 2017, the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty en­tered a two-year con­tract with the com­pa­ny to pro­vide main­te­nance and tech­ni­cal sup­port the TTAG fleet of four AW139 he­li­copters, ac­quired in 2009. Cobham stepped in after the state terminated a contract with Leonardo Helicopters to provide the service which was subcontracted in part to Cobham.

The TT government grounded the TTAG fleet in June 2017, with new Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley stating that main­te­nance costs were too high for the fleet, instead opting to move rescue operations and border security duties performed by TTAG to a public/private entity, National Helicopter Service, although this arrangement has cause much public outcry as several natural disasters saw no response from the TT government where previously the small island nation had played a critical part in saving lives in situations where Trinidad and Tobago responded to incidents that included hurricane response and search and rescue to other small island nations hard hit by hurricanes that lacked their own rescue abilities.

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