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Court strikes out plaintiffs’ claims in contractual dispute

Judicial Commissioner Edward Timothy Starbuck Woolley recently struck out the claims of plaintiffs in a contractual dispute.

The case revolved around a contract between a gas company and Eversolve Business Services Sdn Bhd (Eversolve) for the renovation of a jetty. Eversolve, in turn, entered into a sub-contract with the plaintiffs, Decklite Access (B) Sdn Bhd and Decklite Australis Property Limited, for the work.

The gas company terminated the contract with Eversolve due to issues with work progress, which ultimately led to a cascade of complications, including disputes over the removal of equipment, entry visas, and security arrangements.

Consequently, the plaintiffs initiated legal proceedings in July 2021, seeking damages and losses totalling BND6,529,350 from the company.

In response to the claims, the company applied for the writ and statement of claim to be struck out under several grounds, including that the claims were scandalous, frivolous or vexatious and disclosed no reasonable cause of action. On December 8, 2022, the order to strike out the claims was issued, prompting an appeal.

The judge saw the primary issue in the case being the contractual relationship of the plaintiffs was with Eversolve, not the gas company. Consequently, the plaintiffs needed to establish some other breach of duty by the company.

Furthermore, the claims of “unauthorised confinement” and “forcible restraint” were insufficient to constitute a recognisable basis for a legal claim. Even if interpreted as conversion or trespass to goods, these claims were not supported by the pleadings, the judge found.

In addition to the lack of a reasonable cause of action, a review of the correspondence between the parties suggested that the plaintiffs had ample access to the site to inspect and remove the equipment, dispelling claims of prohibition from entering the premises and forcible detention of equipment.

The court found that the claims were frivolous and vexatious, constituting an abuse of process.

Consequently, the court in its October 5 decision struck out the plaintiffs’ claims and dismissed the appeal, awarding costs to the gas company to be taxed. – Fadley Faisal