Barbuda MP, Council Chair owe gov’t over EC$140K in legal costs for Privy Council land case

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Information Minister Melford Nicholas (file photo)
Information Minister Melford Nicholas (file photo)
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By Latrishka Thomas

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Two Barbudans may have to fork out EC$141,000 to pay the government’s legal fees after they lost a case they took to the Privy Council, claiming that Barbudans owned land on the sister isle in common.

Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Trevor Walker, and current Chairman of the Barbuda Council, Mackenzie Frank, launched the case against the central government following the passage of the Paradise Found Act (2015). The latter legislation nullified critical sections of the Barbuda Land Act 2007 which spoke to ownership of land in Barbuda.

The case was heard on May 3 with the London-based court – the twin island nation’s final appellate court – pledging a timely delivery of its judgment on the matter, which has been a weighty political issue for years.

In June, the Privy Council announced it had dismissed Walker and Frank’s claim, saying it had no realistic prospect of succeeding and that the Court of Appeal had been correct to strike it out previously.

When asked if government planned to waive its claim for legal costs, Information Minister Melford Nicholas told media yesterday, “The Attorney General did present the cost, and whether or not even in leveraging the cost the claimants are in the position to pay, that is another matter for determination, but I think this is the way the legal process works.

“The claimants will have to make a determination as to their ability to pay and whether or not they will need further consideration,” he added.

Attempts to reach the claimants in the matter were unsuccessful up to news time.

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