Construction Law Reporter
ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO v TRINSALVAGE ENTERPRISES LTD (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO)
UKPC 26, Privy Council, Lord Briggs, Lord Kitchin, Lord Hamblen, Lord Burrows and Lady Rose, 18 July 2023
Unjust enrichment – Void contract as a result of non-compliance with statutory requirement – Whether allowing claim would stultify the policy of the statute
The claimant brought a claim in which it sought to recover the reasonable value of the services rendered and materials supplied under an agreement with the defendant related to a construction project. The claim brought was thus a claim in unjust enrichment. The problem which the claimant faced was that under the Central Tenders Board Act of Trinidad and Tobago only the Central Tenders Board had the authority or power to make the contract into which the claimant had entered with the Ministry of Works and Transport. On the facts the agreement had been concluded with the Permanent Secretary on behalf of the Ministry and not with the Board. The contract concluded was therefore void either for want of authority on the part of the government or void because it was ultra vires (but it is important to note that this was not a case in which the non-compliance with the statute rendered the contract an illegal contract).