Tender canceled as government COI law firm for up to $1.2m top-up

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The Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex where the main government offices are located.

Prime Minister Andrew Fahie has repeatedly assured over the past year that his government has capped the Commission of Inquiry’s (COI) legal defense spending 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 had been scrapped and a new engagement agreement was in place with Withers LLP – the law firm based in the UK engaged as a government conflict of interest defense team.

The Cabinet statement says the payment to Withers is not to exceed $1.2 million and notes that funding is expected to be approved via a Schedule of Supplementary Provisions at the First Sitting of the House of Assembly (HOA).

Meanwhile, the statement noted that the extension is for a period of three months – which began March 1 and will run until May 30, 2022 – and relates to legal advice and representation with the government.

According to the press release, this relates to the extension granted to the COI and is done in collaboration with the Attorney General.

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

In a recent press conference held with Prime Minister Fahie, he denied knowing how much had been spent so far on the government’s defense before the COI, despite the publication of the Cabinet decision a few weeks earlier.

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

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