Vijay Construction loses appeal in Seychelles court, EEEL seeks €33m compensation
Vijay had appealed the decision of the Supreme Court handed down by Justice Ellen Carolus. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency)
The Seychelles Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed the appeal by Vijay Construction and upheld the Supreme Court decision in its entirety and ordered Vijay to pay the cost of the litigation to Eastern European Engineering Limited (EEEL).
Vijay had appealed the decision of the Supreme Court handed down by Justice Ellen Carolus, who ruled on June 30, 2020, for Vijay to pay EEEL in line with a UK court order from 2015.
The questions which arose before the Supreme Court and then before the Court of Appeal were whether the said orders by the High Court of England were in fact judgments as intended by the Reciprocal Enforcement of British Judgements Act (REBJA). Secondly, they considered whether enforcing the orders would be just and convenient and in accordance with the public policy of Seychelles.
According to the court report, in a unanimous decision on Friday, the three independent judges - Justices Winston Anderson, William Young and Carl Singh - were not persuaded by the arguments presented by Vijay's legal team and agreed with the ruling of Justice Carolus that the orders were judgements as defined under REBJA.
Secondly, they relied on what other courts have said in respect of the defences against registering foreign judgments and thirdly, they also did not find that EEEL was re-litigating the same matter as argued by Vijay.
Speaking to the media after the case, Basil Hoareau, the representative of EEEL, said that he is satisfied with the judgement.
"As far as I have been told by my client, Vijay will have to pay EEEL more than €33 million, taking into account interests accrued on the basis of these orders," said Hoareau.
Bernard Georges, who represented Vijay Construction, said he was disappointed with the ruling.
"I am disappointed primarily because the Court of Appeal, since 2017, had said that an arbitration award cannot be applied in Seychelles, so now it seems that if you cannot get a judgement in Seychelles, all you have to do is to go overseas and get an award in your favour and it will be applicable in Seychelles," said Georges.
He said that the compensation to be paid should not reach €33 million as stated by Hoareau.
Georges added that the next step is to sit down with his client and see how best to settle the matter along with EEEL's representatives.
Vijay Construction is one of the largest companies in Seychelles, undertaking several construction projects at the moment.
Longstanding dispute over construction project
The case pertains to the EEEL hiring Vijay Construction to carry out construction work for Savoy Hotel in 2011 through six contracts. Each of the six contracts included similar arbitration clauses, which provided that any dispute, disagreement or claim would be settled by arbitration in Paris.
The company filed a Request for Arbitration in September 2012 before the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and received a sole arbitrator award in November 2014.
The costs to be incurred by Vijay Construction for breaking the contract were never paid partly because the award was not enforceable until Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, became a party to the 1958 New York Convention earlier this year.
In November 2020, the Seychelles Constitutional Court dismissed the case of Vijay Construction against the EEEL on the grounds that the matter had already been dealt with before a competent court.