Court to hear GPH arguments on June 4

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Legal arguments challenging the Global Ports Holding (GPH) agreement with the government of Antigua and Barbuda will

be heard by the court on June 4.

The date was confirmed to OBSERVER by the attorney representing the three claimants, Harold Lovell.

 The claimants are Sir George Ryan, James Spencer and Clefrin “Chalkie” Colbourn.

“We are required to file what is known as a fixed date claim form, and we must do this by the 15th [May], and the date for the first hearing has been set at 4th June,” Lovell said, adding he believed that this case was “important for the rule of law.”

On Wednesday, the High Court granted leave to the claimants to apply for judicial review of the agreement signed between the government of Antigua and Barbuda and GPH.

Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, said the administration will fight to uphold the agreement.

At the post-Cabinet press briefing, Hurst said the case was nothing more than “poorly-drafted pleadings” and Government was prepared to defend the agreement.

Last week, Wednesday, notes from the Cabinet disclosed that the Chairman of GPH, Mehmet Kutman, and two advisers, were working with the government and its attorney, Anthony Astaphan, SC, as they prepare to fight the “frivolous case.”

The applicants are seeking to challenge the government’s decision to enter into an agreement with GPH without first making an application to the Tenders’ Board, established by the 1991 Tenders Board Act.

 They also claim a breach of the 2006 Finance Administration Act; and that the agreement was made without informing those affected or concerned by the agreement including, but not limited to, the St. John’s Development Corporation (SJDC).

This development follows GPH’s confirmation that it will partner with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) in establishing an entertainment center in Antigua.

According to the Cabinet notes, principals for the major cruise line expressed an interest in constructing an on-land entertainment center for its passengers.

The exact details of the entertainment center, such as the amount of the investment, were undisclosed at the post-Cabinet press briefing.

However, Hurst said a team from the cruise line recently traveled to Antigua to determine the best location.

“A team was here [in Antigua looking] to determine where best to place such an entertainment center that would be primary among the places that they would funnel their passengers,” he said.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has remained a vital cruise line for Antigua’s cruise tourism industry.

The company recently confirmed that larger ships will serve the destination in the upcoming season, increasing passenger count to approximately 250,000.

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