A judge granted protection to Spain's construction giant OHL obligating the government of the central Mexican state of Puebla to give the company a guarantee of a hearing in the case involving the revocation of the firm's concession to build and operate a highway, officials said.

The ruling in favor of OHL Mexico was based on the fact that there was no guarantee of a hearing provided before the decree whereby the state government withdrew the firm's concession to build and operate a stretch of highway 35 kilometers (22 miles) long, the officials told Efe.

The company went to court after the Puebla government's May 9 decision to cancel the deal with OHL for the $226 million Libramiento Norte De Puebla highway, OHL Mexico said.

The government had argued that "there were a dozen serious irregularities" in the awarding of the contract.

Construction work had been scheduled to begin in May.

The current Puebla government, headed by the National Action Party, or PAN, contends that OHL obtained the highway concession without a competitive bidding process.

The previous state administration, which signed the concession with OHL, was headed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

The company argued that it obtained the concession in 2008 in accordance with "the strictest legality."

The protection forcing state authorities to provide the firm with a guarantee of a hearing enables OHL to attempt to prove its claim that the awarding of the concession was legal.

The Puebla government said that the protection is not a final court ruling on the subject, adding that it will present a review appeal in court whereby it will seek to continue with its procedure to withdraw the concession.

OHL has obtained several contracts with the state governments of Mexico, Puebla and the Federal District, as well as with federal authorities, to build, operate and repair six highways - a total of 359 kilometers (222 miles) - amounting to $6.73 billion.

"It's an isolated incident," company CFO Enrique Weickert said in late July of OHL's dispute with Puebla. "We have no risk at all of contagion, because the other concession we have in Mexico does not share these problems."

Whatever the outcome, the company does not expect the Puebla case to have any material effect on the fortunes of OHL Mexico or the parent corporation in Spain, he said. EFE