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Schol winner doc says he did not breach contract

JADA LOUTOO Tuesday, January 10 2017

THE national scholarship winner, who was ordered to repay over $3 million to the Government after he failed to return to TT after completing his studies in medicine, got another chance to defend himself insisting that he fulfilled his contractual agreement under the National Scholarship Programme.

Dr Ryan Wellington, in March of last year, was ordered by Justice Nadia Kangaloo to repay over $3 million to the government when he failed to attend the start of the civil trial brought against him by the Office of the Attorney General.

Kangaloo declined to grant an adjournment to Wellington’s lawyer and entered judgment against him.

He appealed and his case was sent back to the judge for determination.

Wellington’s lawyer, Ravi Heffes Doon, submitted that there was no requirement in the contract for the scholarship winner to report to the Ministry of Public Administration in person.

“An ordinary reasonable person would have made a phone call,” Heffes Doon said. His client in testimony said he did so on two occasions after he completed his studies in Ireland.

Heffes Doon said there could only have been a breach of the contract if Wellington refused an offer of employment from the ministry, which he did not as he was never offered a position.

Wellington, who currently lives in Australia, in his testimony before Kangaloo at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, claimed that after writing his final exams at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in May 2009, he wrote the Ministry of Public Administration, which managed the Government scholarship programme at the time.

He said that he received no response and after several months he decided to contact the ministry via telephone. Wellington said he was told that he could not be offered a job as he had not immediately returned to T&T upon the completion of his degree.

He said he doubted he had to return in person for immediate placement in the Ministry of Health. “I did have reason to doubt that,” Wellington responded. “If I had no intention of coming back, I would not have made the phone call and be now incurring $3 million worth of debt,” he said in response to questions put to him by the ministry’s attorney, Lesley Ann Lucky Samaroo.

Parties are to file submissions and will return for oral submissions on March 10.

The Education Ministry, which filed the action against the scholarship winner, alleged that Wellington signed an agreement after being awarded an open scholarship in 2003 to obtain a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland.

For the five years of his studies, the Government paid Wellington’s tuition fees and he was given textbook and personal maintenance allowances. Under the agreement, Wellington, as is the case with other scholars, was required to repay the Government if he failed to work in TT for the period of their foreign studies.

Kangaloo had ordered that Wellington repay the $1,734,994.30 expended by the Government on his studies in addition to $1,328,764.64 in interest calculated at the rate of 7.75 percent from the date of his graduation.

The judge had also ordered him to pay legal costs incurred by the State in the sum of $194,227.98.

The State was also represented by attorneys Nadine Nabbie and Kendra Mark, while attorney Kyle Rudder also appeared for Wellington.



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