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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Tender waived as govt’s COI law firm to get top-up of up to $1.2M

Tender waived as govt’s COI law firm to get top-up of up to $1.2M

Premier Andrew Fahie has given repeated assurances over the past year that his government has capped spending on its legal defence for the Commission of Inquiry (COI) at $5 million.
However, it is now unclear how a recent Cabinet decision now affects that proverbial line drawn in the sand.

In a recent post-Cabinet statement released by the government, it was revealed that the formal tender process was waived and a new engagement arrangement is entered into with Withers LLP — the UK based law firm hired as government’s COI defence team.

The Cabinet statement said the payment to Withers is not to exceed $1.2 million and noted that funding is expected to be approved via a schedule of additional provisions at the earliest sitting of the House of Assembly (HOA).

Meanwhile, the statement noted that the extension is for a period of three months — which began on March 1 and will extend to May 30, 2022 — and is for legal advice and representation to the government.

According to the release, this is in respect of the extension granted to the COI and is being done in collaboration with the Attorney General.

The COI’s deadline has twice been extended from its initial six-month period for various reasons and its Commissioner, Sir Gary Hickinbottom, is now expected to issue a final report sometime this month.

At a recent press conference held with Premier Fahie, he denied knowledge of how much had been spent thus far on the government’s defence before the COI, despite the issuance of the Cabinet decision a few short weeks before.

The HOA holds a continuation of its second sitting of the House this week on Thursday, April 7.

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