Port Macquarie-Hastings Council appeal over Mid Coast Road Services decision dismissed by NSW Court of Appeal

The NSW Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council in its legal battle with the Wauchope-based road construction company Mid Coast Road Services.

The decision was handed down on Friday.

The NSW Court of Appeal panel found that it agreed that the primary judge was correct in his construction of the option and that the ‘council failed to establish that the primary judge’s assessment of damages was affected by error’.

The panel also determined that the council would pay the respondent’s costs of the appeal and costs under the Civil Procedure Act 2005 (NSW).​

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council says it will respect the process and the decision.

Council general manager Craig Swift-McNair said the appeal was important for council so as to clarify and obtain certainty about contractual terms which are commonly used.

“In about 2013, council fell into dispute with Mid Coast Road Services (MCRS) regarding services provided by MCRS to council,” Mr Swift-McNair said.

“The dispute was unable to be resolved between the parties and MCRS sued council. On December 13, 2016, following a hearing, the Supreme Court found council had breached a contract and were ordered to pay MCRS $217,065 (plus interest), with the total cost including interest being just over $247,000.

“After careful consideration council exercised its rights to appeal, asking the Court of Appeal to review the decision.

“Whilst disappointed we respect the process and the decision,” the general manager said. “Council always prefers, where possible, to resolve disputes without the intervention of the courts.”

Mid Coast Road Services’ Craig Pinson described the past four years as ‘extremely difficult’. 

"This has been the most stressful event I have ever experienced and I am grateful to all the people who have supported me over the past four years,” he said.  

“This fight has come at a great personal and financial cost which could easily have been avoided.”

Mr Pinson said the question of accountability for the matter within the council remained unanswered.

"No one should cause such a costly event for this community and walk away from it easily.

"The past four years have been extremely difficult for me and my company,” he said.