A turnkey contractor who failed to deliver the promised works on time, was ordered to pay €109,000 to the owner of a Rabat villa.

Kurt Galea Pace had signed a contract of works in June 2014 whereby he undertook a turnkey project on a semi-detached villa at Tal-Virtu, Rabat.

Works on the property were to be completed by the end of January 2015, failing which the contractor was to incur a penalty fee of €50 for each working day until completion, unless the delay resulted from causes beyond the contractor’s control.

Yet, as closing day loomed closer and completion was nowhere in sight, the owner of the villa tried to reach some form of solution with the contractor, but to no avail.

Although the owner had paid some €100,000, it transpired that the building materials which were meant to have been purchased with the money, never turned up on site. Moreover, the works done were not up to standard, some having been carried out without the necessary permits the contractor was meant to obtain.

Although the owner tried to reach an amicable solution, calling upon the turnkey contractor to fulfill his part of the deal and also to rectify the bad works done, the latter failed to deliver leaving the owner with no option but to institute a civil suit for damages.

In the course of the proceedings, it transpired that Mr Galea Pace had engaged several sub-contractors who were told that they would be paid by villa owner Stanley Bugeja.

Following the termination of Mr Galea Pace's contract of works, the owner engaged an architect to survey the project and contracted other labourers to carry out the unfinished works.

A condition report drawn up by this architect had attested that only one-third of the works had been carried out and these were valued at €50,000, far below the total sum forked out in advance by the applicant.

Pointing out that there had been "gross shortcomings" by the turnkey contractor, Mr Justice Mark Chetcuti, presiding over the First Hall, Civil Court, concluded there was no reason to doubt the correctness of the architect’s report in the absence of any proof to the contrary.

Various bills of quantities exhibited proved that the total value of works was expected to reach €100,000, excluding VAT. The owner had forked out €123,971, as evidenced by receipts presented in court.

However, no evidence was presented in respect of the value of remedial and unfinished works undertaken by the owner after the turnkey contract had been terminated in September 2016.

Since the turnkey contractor had failed to carry out his stipulated duties, the court ordered him to refund €80,000 and an additional €29,000 by way of a penalty fee calculated at €50 per working day between the agreed date of completion and the date when the deal was struck off.

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