Major Legal Victory For The Government On Barbuda Land Issue

The government has secured a major victory in the courts on the Barbuda Land issue.
The High Court has refused the application by a group of Barbudans who had been seeking to block the enactment of the amendment to the Barbuda Land Act.
The claimants in the case, including John Mussington, Trevor Walker, Devon Warner and Lilrose Burton, were seeking leave to commence judicial review, as well as an interim injunction restraining the government from proceeding with the passage of the law.
They argued that no consent was given by the Barbuda Council or the people of Barbuda and therefore the Barbuda Land Management Amendment Act 2017 is unlawful.
They had brought the case against Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne and Attorney General the Hon. Steadroy Benjamin.
However, in a judgement High Court Justice Clare Henry ruled that the applicants failed to present an arguable case for the court to intervene before the law is enacted.
The judge cited a landmark ruling from the UK-based Privy Council which maintains that the court should, as far as possible, avoid interfering with the pre-enactment legislative process.
Crucially, the court found that the plan referred to by the Prime Minister is for Barbudans to be given free-hold title and to arrange for mortgages for those who desire it.
The court found that there is nothing to suggest that a challenge to the law after it is enacted could not provide relief to the claimants.
It is a major legal victory for the government which has insisted that the amendment passed in Parliament’s Lower House on Tuesday will empower Barbudans with titles to lands they occupy.
The bill now goes to the senate for debate.

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