28th Mar 2024


Rowan Pennington-Benton Instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP (London) for the Respondent.

Case ID: JCPC 2021/0044

Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Case summary


Did the Court of Appeal (“CA”) err in upholding the trial judge’s decision that the Appellant was not entitled to damages for loss of use for its excavator in addition to general and aggravated damages? (“Issue 1”)

Did the CA err in law by invoking the provisions of section 39 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act Chap 4:01 in ordering the Appellant to return the excavator to the Appellant? (“Issue 2”)

Did the CA err in ordering the Appellant to pay the Respondent’s costs of the appeal as provided for in Part 67.14 CPR as the appeal was on a limited issue of loss of use only, whereas the costs ordered in the High Court was on the value of the entire claim (which was not appealed)? (“Issue 3”)


The Appellant was engaged in the business of rental of heavy equipment, including excavators. On 19 October 2015, the Appellant entered into an agreement for sale of an excavator with Aldwin Edwards for the price of TT$1,328,302.00. At the direction of Mr Edwards, the excavator was delivered to a particular site. On 21 October 2015, police entered the site and seized the excavator. [CA/4-6]

The Appellant instituted proceedings against the Respondent in the High Court, arguing that at the time of the seizure the excavator was being used by the Appellant in work which it was lawfully contracted to perform. After the Respondent filed its defence, the Appellant successfully applied to have it struck out. Judgment was entered for the Appellant. The Appellant had the excavator returned to it following the judgment. [CA/8-9]

On the issue of damages, the judge ordered that the Respondent pay the Appellant: (i) the sum of TT$1,328,320.00 (and interest thereon) as special damages for detinue of the excavator; (ii) the sum of TT$150,000.00 (and interest thereon) as an award for aggravated damages; and (iii) the Appellant’s prescribed costs based on the value of the claim being TT$1,328,320.00. [CA/10] However, the judge found that the Appellant was not entitled to recover damages for loss of use for the period that the excavator was detained. This was on the basis of a factual finding that the Appellant had entered into an agreement to sell the excavator before it was seized and but for the detinue the excavator would have been sold. The judge held that there was “no evidence before the court to suggest that the sale of the excavator was anything else but a done deal”. Making an award for loss of use, therefore, “would not amount to a compensatory award of damages but would cause the claimant to benefit from a windfall which he would not have received had the vehicle not been seized and detained by police.” [CA/11]

The Appellant appealed the judge’s finding that the Appellant was not entitled to damages for loss of use of the excavator. The CA held that the judge was correct to find that the Appellant was not entitled to damages for loss of use; it was a decision reasonably open to her based on the evidence. [CA/18-34] However, the CA also found that the Appellant could not recover both the value of the chattel and possession of it, since that would be contrary to the established remedies for the cause of action of detinue and would result in double recovery on the part of the Appellant. The judge had therefore erred in law in granting a declaration that the Appellant was entitled both to possession of the excavator and the value of the excavator as special damages. [CA/35-45]

The CA therefore dismissed the appeal and affirmed the judge’s Order with regard to damages. However, relying on section 39 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act Chapter 4:01, the CA also set aside the judge’s declaration that the Appellant was entitled to possession of the excavator and ordered the Appellant to deliver the excavator to the Respondent. [CA/46] The CA ordered that the Appellant pay the Respondent’s costs, to be determined at two thirds of the costs assessed in the court below. [CA/47]



Caribbean Welding Supplies Ltd


Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago



Lord Hodge, Lord Hamblen, Lord Leggatt, Lord Stephens, Lord Richards

Hearing start date

6 February 2024

Hearing finish date

6 February 2024

Watch hearing
6 February 2024 Morning session

Judgment details

Judgment date

28 March 2024

Neutral citation

[2024] UKPC 7


Interested in our News & events?

Please subscribe here

Related People

Rowan Pennington-Benton

View profile

For Help or Advice…

Please contact us either by telephone: +44 (0)20 7415 7800 or email: clerks@3harecourt.com

Awards & Accreditations



Portfolio Builder

Select the legal services that you would like to download or add to the portfolio

Download    Add to portfolio   
Title Type CV Email

Remove All


Click here to share this shortlist.
(It will expire after 30 days.)