The Bahrain Court of Cassation on 28 March upheld an earlier Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution (the “BCDR”) award against Target Trenchless and its owner, Ahmed Al Kubaisi, in favour of the leading British civil engineering firm Joseph Gallagher Limited (“JGL”) in a dispute over misappropriated tunnelling equipment and unpaid invoices relating to tunnelling projects across the GCC. JGL is a market leading firm in civil engineering and tunnelling, and the largest tunnelling subcontractor in the U.K.
The Court of Cassation ruled that the BCDR’s judgment in favour of JGL should be upheld, as Target Trenchless had failed to return equipment worth circa GBP£ 950k leased to it by JGL, and in addition had failed to pay valid invoices to JGL of circa GBP£ 2.9 million pounds. In addition the Court upheld additional sums awarded to JGL for legal fees and expenses: the value of the overall judgment against Target Trenchless was confirmed as being just over GBP£ 4.9 million to date.
JGL’s case in the BCDR was initially brought in November 2013 following the failure by Target Trenchless to return tunnelling equipment that JGL had supplied to carry out projects across the GCC, including for the EWA in Bahrain.
In 2010 Mr. Christopher White, Managing Director of Target Trenchless, requested JGL to provide equipment and expertise to assist Target Trenchless on tunnelling projects in the GCC. The equipment was supplied to Target Trenchless and Mr. Christopher White, on behalf of Target Trenchless, agreed to pay for the machinery and expertise of JGL on a project by project basis.
Some of the equipment was subsequently returned to JGL, but 12 pieces of equipment (including an Unclemole TCC 600) were not. Despite writing repeatedly to Mr. White demanding the return of its missing equipment, none of it was (or ever has been) returned to JGL.
In addition by 2013 discrepancies in the amounts paid to JGL pursuant to the contract between it and Target Trenchless had accrued to the value of over GBP£ 2.5 million and repeated requests sent to Mr. White for these sums to be paid were ignored.
The Court of Cassation agreed with the BCDR ruling that there was no doubt that Target Trenchless had taken delivery of the equipment and had not returned it to JGL and was therefore liable for the total costs of the equipment. Target Trenchless’s argument that it had either never received the equipment at all, or otherwise owned it legally itself, was dismissed by both the BCDR and the Court of Cassation.
The Court of Cassation also ruled that Target Trenchless and its owner, Ahmed Al Kubaisi, was legally obligated to pay JGL outstanding fees for projects across the GCC and had failed to do so.
The Court of Cassation found that Target Trenchless had failed to pay JGL in breach of its legal obligations, for projects that had taken place in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for clients including Al Hassanain Co.
B.S.C. (c) (Bahrain), Hyundai (Kuwait), Kuwait Arab Contractors, Haya Water (Oman), Monte Adriano Middle East LLC (Oman), Galfar Engineering & Contracting SAOG (Oman), MAPA-LIMAK-MNG HOLDING Joint Venture (MLM) (KSA), Kuwait British Co for Contracting and Trading W.L.L., MA Al Kharafi & Sons (Kuwait), Mushrif Trading and Contracting Company (Kuwait), Nass Contracting (Bahrain), Heisco (Kuwait), Petrofac (Kuwait) and the Consolidated Contractors Company (Oman).
The Court of Cassation found that on the projects undertaken for these clients (and others) JGL had provided the specialised tunnelling equipment required to undertake the project but that Target Trenchless had failed to remit monies due to JGL and had in some cases failed to return the equipment as well.
JGL’s Managing Director, Steve Harvey, said that “Despite having undertaken business in the global tunnelling industry for over 34 years this is the first litigation case that JGL has ever had to bring. We are delighted with the decision of the Bahrain Courts that Target Trenchless and Mr. Al Kubaisi are liable to JGL for nearly GBP£ 5 million. Joseph Gallagher and JGL entered into an arrangement with Chris White and Target Underground in good faith and we were, and are, determined that the internationally accepted principals of business ethics and honouring agreements should not be treated lightly.
Unfortunately what has emerged during the process is that we were not the first to have been treated in this manner by Chris White and Target Underground. We may, however, be the first to have applied the resolve to seek justice. We sincerely hope the publication of the award will help in ensuring we are the last.
Whilst at times the legal process has been frustrated by the actions of Chris White, Target Underground and Ahmed Alkubaisi we have, with the help of our legal team, persevered. We will apply the same resolve to recovering the monies we are owed.
We would like to thank our lawyers, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP and Zeenat Al Mansoori for assisting us throughout this matter.”
For further information please contact: