The real case has not yet begun, therefore government did not lose against the Grenadian by Rex Resort, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour, Elvin Nimrod.
The No.2 man in the ruling New National Party (NNP) government made the remarks as he sought to refute claims in certain quarters that the high court had delivered a ruling last week against the government in the Rex Grenadian acquisition matter.
Minister Nimrod was flanked by Solicitor-General, Dwight Horsford who has carriage for the State in the matter as the two appeared at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing held Tuesday at the Ministerial Complex in the Botanical Gardens.
According to Nimrod, the Keith Mitchell-led government has made a move to acquire the Grenadian by Rex Resort property on the basis that it was not serving in the best interest of the public.
He said the first move made by government was the appointment of an Acquisition Officer as advised by the Governor General, which was followed by the publishing of the first notice of acquisition in the Government Gazette in early February.
He told reporters that when this was done the representatives of the hotel filed an application for injunction seeking to prevent the government from taking any further steps in the acquisition process.
“The government opposes that application for an injunction and the matter was heard in the court by a Judge in Chambers. The decision was dissolved and the matter was heard on the 11th of March and the judgment resolved for Wednesday the 16th of March. At that point, the Judge granted a temporary injunction in favour of the Rex. The Judge also granted leave of course for Rex to file for what we call a Judicial Review”, he said.
“…That was just a procedural matter wherein a temporary injunction was filed. In other words all the substantive issue of the case is still pending. So the court granted an injunction extensive of the injunction up to the 24th of May when the substantive issue would be heard. So when we hear talk that the government has lost the case, I do not know what case they are talking about because the real case has not yet begun,” he added.
The Solicitor-General elaborated on what the Judicial Review will entail in the Rex Grenadian matter.
He said that in simple terms a Judicial Review is a method in which the court examines the process undertaken by a public authority or decision-maker in this case the Grenada government.
Horsford stated that the process is not “to investigate the rightness, correctness or the wrongness of the decision” taken by government to get its hand on the hotel.
He said that all the court is required to do is to test whether the law was complied with such as the Land Acquisition act, and the Constitution “to see if the public authority or the decision maker (government), (that) the decision they undertook was rationale in that it was within the range of options available to the decision maker”.
Horsford also sought to give his version of the case being put forward by attorneys for the Rex Grenadian.
He said: “The essence of Rex’s claim is that the terms of their lease gave them the legitimate expectation that the government will not compulsory acquire and that having regard to the course of dealings over years and what they say are recent investments made to the property, they had a legitimate expectation to be consulted before the government takes such a decision to compulsory acquire. There are other claims that they are making regarding the process of application – they are more of a procedural nature”.
According to Horsford, it is not possible for the court to rule that government cannot acquire the Rex property.
“The constitution which is supreme (law) permits the government to do so. The court can temporarily as it has now done say hold, let me hear (you) on the process – (which is) what their (Rex) complaint is – so that in short, even in the main case it is not possible for the court to grant a permanent injunction”, he said.
“…If the court agrees with them and we tend to think that it’s not likely to happen but if the court agrees with them at the main case then what the court can do is to say that (in) theory (the) process you’ve undertaken is void and in that instance all you do is you start again,” he added.
Horsford told reporters that representatives of Rex Grenadian have filed no substantive claim in the acquisition matter.
The court has set May 24 for hearing of the substantive case being brought by the owners of the resort.