Ruling expected soon in Rex Grenadian issue

By the end of August female High Court Judge, Madam Justice Wynante Adrien-Roberts is expected to give a ruling on the controversial Rex Grenadian hotel issue.

The ruling from the judge should give a clear indication on whether or not the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government in St. George’s can proceed with the acquisition of the Grenadian by Rex Resort through the Land Acquisition Act, which provides for the State to acquire any property for a public purpose.

Justice Adrien-Roberts gave a hint to a possible date for the ruling after hearing arguments from both parties at High Court No. 3 on The Carenage in St. George’s last week Thursday.

On March 4, MRI Ltd., the management company for Rex Resorts filed an affidavit and injunction request to prevent the Government of Grenada from revoking the company’s 99-year lease and taking control of the property, which was granted earlier this year by Acting OECS Supreme Court Judge, Justice Gerhard H. A. Wallbank.

Rex had also approached the court for a judicial review of government’s decision to acquire the hotel property, as announced in its first publication in the Gazette on February 5, 2016.

This matter came up before the female judge last week Wednesday and Thursday in which four witnesses were called to provide evidence to the court.

Lead Attorney for government Thomas W.R. Astaphan QC from Anguilla called two witnesses including Ruth Rouse, the then Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Ministry when the publication was made, and Attorney-General Cajeton Hood, who is believed to have played a key role in the drafting of the Acquisition Notice.

The two State witnesses were not cross examined by legal counsel for Rex.

The legal team for the hotel is led by John Carrington, QC who called two witnesses including Country Manager, Arlene Marsh and Chief Executive Officer MRI Ltd., Richard Bryson, who expressed no desire to give up the property to government.

During cross examination by Astaphan QC, the government’s lead attorney was able to bore holes in evidence given by the MRI CEO on certain information regarding the first publication made in the Government Gazette in relation to the acquisition of the 30 acre property.

Astaphan urged the judge to disregard Bryson’s testimony and to not grant a judicial review in the case.

The Mitchell government is trying to convince the court that the hotel operators have run down the hotel and that it has a party that is interested in taking it over and doing extensive upgrade.

THE NEW TODAY understands that government has offered the owners of the hotel a package of US$9 million, which was rejected.

There are unconfirmed reports that Rex is looking for a payment of around EC$17 million dollars to turn over the hotel.

Government is alleging that the hotel is being used mainly as a dorm for students attending St. George’s University (SGU), the chairs are disintegrating and the roof is leaking.

However, Attorney Carrington contended that the court has not been presented with any evidence of complaints about the standards of the hotel contrary to the government’s claim.

“Rex has been operating for more than 25 years without a complaint”, Carrington declared, pointing to the many accolades received by the hotel throughout its existence notably, the most recent coming from the British High Commission following the hosting of former British Prime Minister, David Cameron during his visit to the island last year.

Additionally, he informed the court that the hotel has been honouring agreements as set out in the lease agreement.

Carrington pointed out that in 2013, the owners commenced a phased improvement of the hotel facilities with a $1.2 million upgrade to the pool and the conference room is next on the agenda.

However, Government’s attorney informed the court that the case is not based on the lease or whether or not Rex performs its function under the lease but is based on a judicial review, which seeks to prevent the government from acquiring the property.

Attorney Carrington argued that while the Land Acquisition Act allows for government to acquire any property for a public purpose, government failed to comply with certain technical formalities required by the said Act, such as providing a detailed purpose for the acquisition, among others.

After hearing the arguments the female judge reserved her decision for “hopefully before the end of the month”.

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