After a 14-year legal battle, New Thriving to finally pay GPL millions owed in arrears 


The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has dismissed the challenge brought by the owners of New Thriving Restaurant against the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), putting to rest a 14-year legal battle in the courts.

On Tuesday, the CCJ delivered its judgment in the Che Jain Ping and Xiao Guang Zhao v Guyana Power and Light case and in effect upheld two previous judgments by the Guyana High Court and Court of Appeal.

The matter concerned a dispute between the parties in respect of arrears for electricity consumed by New Thriving Restaurant for the period from January 2002 to July 2009.

The business was billed monthly and at the end of the period, arrears on the account exceeded payments credited to the account by $13.7 million.

An action was commenced before the High Court in October 2010. The Court held that the appellants were liable to pay to GPL the arrears for electricity supplied and not paid for by them.

This decision was later upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The figure could be higher now; As of December 31, 2015, the New Thriving Restaurant reportedly owed the Guyana Power and Light $90M following the years-long case that stemmed from electricity theft.

This was according to an audit of GPL by Nigel Hinds Financial Services which was submitted to the government on August 29, 2016.

In its ruling, the CCJ explained that Section 23 of the Electricity Sector Reform Act expressly creates a statutory contract for the supply of electricity between the parties as a consumer and public electrical supplier.

The Court explained that the Public Electricity Supply Regulations (PESR) entitled GPL to access the Court by an action for breach of the electrical supply contract.

Finally, it was held that the requirements of PESR had been met, thereby entitling GPL to backbill the appellants beyond the 12 months mentioned in PESR and claim full arrears in accrual.

“In all the circumstances the appeal was dismissed, and the orders of the Court of Appeal were affirmed,” the CCJ ruled.

The matter was heard by the Justices Adrian Saunders, Winston Anderson, Maureen Rajnauth-Lee, Denys Barrow, and Andrew Burgess.

Stephen Fraser, SC, and Shantel Scott-Lall appeared for New Thriving while Timothy Jonas, SC, and Krystal Abrams appeared for GPL.

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