Any plans the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) had of appealing urgently, last Friday's judgment, has been thrown in limbo, by the shock resignation of its executive chairman, Calder Hart. Hours after the judgment on Friday, both in-house and external attorneys for Udecott were eager to go to the Court of Appeal to get a stay of Prof John Uff handing in his report to President George Maxwell Richards this week. But on Saturday, Hart, who had been under two years of constant pressure, resigned, not only as executive chairman of Udecott, but as chairman of four other state boards.
Hart, his wife Sherrine, and daughter Jean, then flew out to Miami on Saturday, for what a close friend said was a short visit "to relieve himself from all the recent pressures." The other members of the Udecott board have not met, so no instructions were given to their attorneys to go to the Court of Appeal. The urgent application to stay delivery of the report will not happen today, as Udecott officials are still trying to understand the roundabout decision taken by Hart to leave immediately. There were unconfirmed reports yesterday that Uff was flying in to present the report to the President, but no one was able to confirm this.
The report was expected on two previous occasions, the last being February 28, but because of the court case, there was an undertaking that it would not be handed over until judgment was given. On Friday, Justice Mira Dean-Armorer, presiding in Port-of-Spain High Court, dismissed Udecott's judicial review in which the state company claimed that the Uff Commissioners were biased towards Udecott and Hart. In her 142-page judgment, Dean-Armorer ordered that the final report be handed in by the other two of the four commissioners –Uff and Desmond Thornhill.
Udecott, however, was able to get an order from the court to say that the decision of the commissioners to receive a memorandum prepared by former commissioner, Kenneth Sirju, and to annex that report to the commission of enquiry's report, was illegal, null and void. Dean-Armorer granted an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the commissioners to receive such an extraneous memorandum and annex it to the commission of enquiry's report. She also ordered Udecott to pay 7/8ths of the costs to the Uff Commission, defendants in the matter.
Two commissioners, Kenneth Sirju and Israel Khan, SC, resigned last year from the commission, so they won't be part of the final report.