By JULIA DAIA BORE
JUSTICE has at last prevailed for an aviation engineering company, PNG Aviation Services Pty Ltd – which was forced to cease operation on Sept 16, 1997 when the Supreme Court ordered the State to pay it a total of K5,310,621 in damages for loss of business.
The ruling at the Waigani Supreme Court early this month ended almost 13 years of legal battle between PNG Aviation Services and the State and its relevant entities and employees arose from a breach of contract on Aug 10, 1995, when the State forced the company’s closure because it had other development plans for the airport.
The PNG Aviation Services, which had been in business for more than 20 years at the Jackson International Airport, had been forced to come to a standstill as it started legal proceedings against the State.
The appellant’s lawyers Black Dawson said justice had prevailed after 13 years, during this time in which two of the company directors had died.
The dispute arose when the PNG Aviation Services carried out an engineering business which provided maintenance for small aircraft from a site at the airport which it leased from the State.
The term of that lease was three years with options to renew but the State made other arrangements and asked the company to vacate the premises for other planned redevelopment; hence their court proceedings instituted in 1995 and its decision leading to an appeal in 1997 and subsequent court hearings.
The PNG Aviation had asked the State to provide them a “suitable” alternate hangar to conduct their business, however, the State did not do that, resulting in PNG Aviation Services obtaining a judgment on liabilities against the State on Aug 10, 1995, and subsequent orders that had been obtained for the payment of K1,127,994 damages plus interest of K121,143.46 (a total of K1,249,137.46) and costs as a result of a judgment made on Dec 13, 1996.
This then followed a Supreme Court appeal against damages heard by an earlier three-judge bench but one of the judges Justice Timothy Hinchliffe died, resulting in a rehearing.
On Dec 4, a three-man bench of Justices David Cannings, Sao Gabi and Graham Ellis set aside the judgement of the trial judge with their unanimous decision, ordering the State to pay more than K5.3 million to the appellant.