Edmund Mansoor v Antigua Public Utilities Authority
THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
CLAIM NO: ANUHCV2011/0509
ANTIGUA PUBLIC UTILITIES AUTHORITY
Megan Samuels-Field for the Claimant
Craig Christopher for the Defendant
2013: October 8
 Cottle, J.: Under the Public Utilities Act Cap 357 of the Laws of Antigua, the defendant is, by virtue
of Section 5, granted the exclusive right to generate, distribute, supply and sell electricity in Antigua
and Barbuda and to perform services incidental thereto. The Claimant installed a home security
system to protect his home at Cedar Valley Springs in Antigua. As part of that system he had,
professionally installed, three Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) cameras, as part of a closed circuit television
 During the night of 17th October, 2009 to 18th October, 2009, all three of the PTZ cameras
malfunctioned. Subsequent investigation revealed that all had suffered permanent damage to their
internal circuitry as a result of electrical power surges. The cameras had been connected to a
surge protector rated at 3,400 joules. They were also connected to an Uninterruptible Power
Supply (UPS). The Claimant invited the defendant to compensate him for the replacement of the
PTZ cameras as he considered it to be the defendant’s unreliable electrical supply which had
caused the surges which destroyed the PTZ cameras. The defendant demurred. The defendant
says that the claimant failed to adequately protect his equipment before connecting it to the
electrical grid. They say that it is in the nature of electrical supply that there would be surges from
time to time.
The Claimant’s Case
 The Claimant gave evidence and called one witness in support. The Claimant says that his home
surveillance system had been installed by the leading local firm in the field. On their advice he
purchased a surge protector manufactured by the American Power Corporation a well known and
respected supplier of surge protector equipment. He bought the unit affording the greatest level of
protection available at 3,400 joules despite having been advised that a protector rated at 1200
joules would be adequate for his domestic needs. When cross examined, the claimant admitted
that he was not familiar with the technical terms “voltage clamping requirement” and “response
time requirement” as these applied to surge protectors. He had not considered these
characteristics when purchasing and installing the surge protector for his surveillance system. In
his pleadings, the claimant did not aver any damage to any other items or electrical appliances. In
his testimony there was an effort to say that other items had also suffered damage in the power
surge but this not having been foreshadowed in the pleadings, was not considered by the Court.
 Mr. Roland Campbell was the technician who advised the Claimant and installed the surveillance
system. It was he who determined, after inspecting the PTZ cameras, that they had been
damaged beyond repair by electrical spikes or surges. He came to this conclusion upon seeing the
burnt wires and smelling the burnt units. He too wished to add that he noticed other burnt
components but as noted above this evidence was not considered.
 When cross examined, he agreed that a power surge could occur if the main electricity was
interrupted and a back-up generator switched on. He did not think this to have been the case
because the solenoid on the back-up generator was not burnt. He performed no technical tests on
the burnt PTZ cameras.
The Defendant’s Case
 There were two witnesses for the defendant. Mr. Andre Matthias is the Chief Electrical Engineer of
the defendant. He testified that in considering a surge protector, it is necessary to look at the
voltage clamping and response time in addition to the joules rating. He thought this would be
known to a reasonably competent technician, such as Mr. Campbell. He also added that PTZ
cameras are highly sensitive and a quick response time in the surge protector was needed to keep
 Mr. Matthias testified that the tests performed by Mr. Campbell, visual observation and smelling
were wholly inadequate to conclusively determine that the damage to the PTZ cameras resulted
from electrical power surges. Mr. Matthias concluded that the reason the PTZ cameras were
damaged was because the response time of the surge protector was too slow. He arrived at that
conclusion because he asserted that only the PTZ cameras were damaged. If the surge protector
was adequate to protect the UPS and digital video recorder (DVR) which also formed part of the
surveillance system, then the only conclusion possible was that the response time was too slow to
save the PTZ cameras. There is a flaw in this argument. The Claimant did not plead that other
items specifically the DVR and UPS, had been damaged. When cross examined both the Claimant
and his witness said that both had been burnt by the surge. The defendant led no evidence to
establish that the items had not been damaged. In the state of the pleadings and evidence, this
court could make no factual determination either way. Thus the defendant’s witness cannot use a
“fact” not established as the basis for his conclusion.
 Mr. Matthias conceded that the defendant had in the past compensated customers for items
destroyed by power surges even when these items had been connected to what he considered to
have been adequate surge protection. At times there could be surges which would overcome any
level of protection.
 Mr. Steadroy Roach is the Customer Service Engineer. He dispatched two technicians to inspect
the home of the Claimant after a complaint had been received of the damaged PTZ cameras. He
too, visited the home subsequently. He saw the surge protector rated at 3,400 joules. The
technicians produced a report form. It is notable for its brevity. Though it does mention a UPS and
surge protector, these are not described. The report speaks of a damaged CCTV surveillance
system. It does not detail which elements of the system were damaged. The form provides for
Mr. Roach to recommend whether the defendant should bear some,, all, or none of the
responsibility for the damage. Mr. Roach made no recommendation and did not sign the form. It is
on the basis of that form that he now says that the defendant ought not to be liable.
 The defendant is public authority. It is exclusively empowered to supply electricity. The public is
therefore entitled to be provided with a service that meets certain standards. Certainly, the
defendant is not permitted to supply power in a manner that negligently causes loss to the public.
It is patent that they would have had customers like the claimant in mind when they supply
electricity. Indeed, such customers are the raison d’être of the deft.
 The damage sustained by the claimant is of a kind which would not occur if the defendant had
exercised proper care in the supply of electricity. It is for the defendant to provide an explanation if
it can. In the present case I find the defendant’s explanation wanting. They suggest that the
Claimant’s surge protector did not have a quick enough response time. Despite their expertise in
this area, they offered no evidence of the response time that would have sufficed.
 They do not tell the court what was the response time of the surge protector used by the Claimant.
Instead they offer the circular logic that since they cameras were damaged, the response time
must have been inadequate. Yet they concede that some surges are sufficient to overcome any
level of protection. I find that the defendant has failed to satisfy me on a balance of probability that
the explanation they proffer is enough to absolve them.
 I find it more likely than not that the PTZ cameras were damaged by an electrical surge in the
power supplied by the defendant. There is no evidence before me that the surge protection used
by the claimant was inadequate either in joules rating, voltage clamping or response time. On the
contrary the evidence is that the joules rating was more than needed.
 In the circumstances, I find that the claimant has succeeded. Judgment is entered for the claimant
for $18,826.48, the replacement cost of the PTZ cameras. The defendant will pay interest on this
sum at the rate of 5% per annum from judgment until payment. The defendant will pay the
claimant’s prescribed costs on this amount.
High Court Judge