Barbudans await judge’s decision in land case

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The Judge, Clare Henry, who heard an application for leave for judicial review, filed by a group of six Barbudans, has reserved her decision in the matter which she heard in the High Court yesterday. She is to decide whether the circumstances in this case, are so exceptional, that the Court should intervene and allow judicial review, prior to the enactment of the proposed amendments to the Barbuda Land Act.
The government said it hopes to pass several amendments to that Act before the end of the year, but the Barbudans, who were represented by Antigua born U.K. based lawyer Leslie Thomas, are uncomfortable with some of the planned changes and are calling for consultation with the government. They contend that there must be consultation with the Barbuda Council and the people before changes are made to the law, and they are pointing to the same Barbuda Land Act and the Constitution to back up their argument, Trevor Walker confirmed yesterday.
Dr. David Dorsett, who represented the defendants – Prime Minister, Gaston Browne and Attorney General, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin – explained that the main argument from his end was on the issue of whether the Court had the authority to intervene. “We argued and showed the authorities that getting an injunction or judicial interference with the actions of parliament, pre-enactment, is a very exceptional remedy.
It is not something that is easily granted. You have to show exceptional circumstances because the Court’s general policy, in keeping with the separation of powers doctrine, is not to overview or to interfere with the legislative process,” he said. Dr. Dorsett said the applicants would have to show that the situation with the proposed legislative change, is “something so outrageous that will cause irreversible prejudice and damage in terms of loss, a once-and-for-all loss of a constitutional right, that would provoke the Court to intervene.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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