A High Court judge in Grenada on Monday ruled against an application by government in the Rex Grenadian acquisition issue.
The Keith Mitchell-led government was seeking to get Madam Justice Wynante Adrien-Roberts, who presides over High Court No. 3 on The Carenage in St. George’s to remove three of the four defendants named as parties in the claim filed by lawyers for the local hotel.
Rex had approached the court for a judicial review of government’s decision to acquire the hotel property and the request was granted earlier in the year by Acting OECS Supreme Court judge, Justice Gerhard H.A. Wallbank.
Government is contending that the operators have run down the hotel and that it has a party that is interested in taking it over and doing extensive upgrade.
Speculation is rife that the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has offered the owners of the hotel a compensation package of 9 million dollars which was rejected.
In handing down her ruling, Justice Adrien-Roberts, expressed concern about the impact the removal of the defendants namely, the Cabinet Secretary, Beryl Isaac, Attorney General Cajeton Hood and the Manager of the Government Printery, Eric Brathwaite would have on the injunction that has already been granted against all parties, which includes the Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade.
The application was filed on May 18, 2016 but did not give ample time for notice to the other parties and the court took the decision to adjourn the matter to last week Friday (June 17).
In law, notice of 7 clear days must be given and with that seven days ending on Thursday, May 26, which was a holiday the matter was put off.
In putting forward government’s position, Thomas W.R. Astaphan QC from Anguilla expressed the view that as a “legal issue” the three defendants should be removed from the case as public servants because “they have no business being named as parties in this matter.”
However, Justice Adrien-Roberts felt that because there is an injunction against all parties including those parties named she decided against removing them at this stage and to deal with the issue at the trial set for August 3.
Rex’s legal team is being led by John Carrington QC from the British Virgin Islands who argued that the three defendants should not be struck off the claim as the injunction was filed against all parties.
During Monday’s proceedings, Carrington’s junior, Dickon Mitchell requested of the court that government pay cost of $7,000 and after hearing arguments from both sides the judge granted cost in the amount of $3, 000.
Additionally, the High Court Judge ordered the parties to file affidavits by July 8, an affidavit response by July 15, and all other submissions by July 29.
In an interview with THE NEW TODAY following Monday’s proceedings, Solicitor General Dwight Horsford expressed confidence that the government would win the matter in the end.
He said it is kind of “bizarre” that the matter of the attempt to complete the acquisition of Rex “is still bouncing around” in court.
“It is very unusual that you hear a State being prevented from pursuing acquisition, which is a common place thing,” he told this newspaper.
He pointed out that there is a legal regime for acquisition by the State.
“…There is an act that says when the government takes your property you are entitled to compensation. Indeed the Constitution of the country mandates that. We expect the court to resolve this quickly, he said.
Horsford disclosed that the OECS Chief Justice, Janice Pereira has already agreed to grant a special dispensation for the disposal of the case on August 3 and 4, 2016.
“Those two days … we expect the matter to be completed,” Horsford said noting that “the court would be on holiday at the end of July (and) normally we wouldn’t have trials.”
On March 4, MRI Ltd., the management company of The Grenadian by Rex Resorts, filed an affidavit and injunction request to prevent the government from revoking the company’s 99-year lease and take control of the property.
The court action was filed through the local law firm of Grant, Joseph & Co and it was granted by Justice Wallbank.