24 Aug 2004

NZ High Court upholds award of hundreds of thousands to Fiji government in contract dispute

8:20 pm on 24 August 2004

The High Court of New Zealand has declined to overturn the awarding of more than 600,000 US dollars to the government of Fiji following a dispute with a company building a road on Vanua Levu.

The award against New Zealand-based Downer Construction and JS Hill and Associates of Fiji relates to a contract signed over eight years ago.

David Venables reports.

"In April 1996, the parties agreed on terms for upgrading the gravel road between Narabuka and Dreketi to a two lane bitumen sealed highway, at a cost of 11 point one million US dollars, to be completed in February 1998. The projected wasn't finished until July 1999, with the final pricetag coming to 12 point eight million. The Fiji government and the construction joint venture cross claimed against each other, with the dispute ending up before a tribunal set up under the International Court of Arbitration. The tribunal made awards to both Downer and the Fijian government with the net result going in Fiji's favour to the tune of 624,000 dollars. Two judges in the High Court at Wellington have now rejected an application from Downer to set aside the award."