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Friday, 03 December, 2021
HomeThe Big StoriesGovernment secures a win in Half Moon Bay Hotel case

Government secures a win in Half Moon Bay Hotel case

Government is commending the efforts of attorneys both here and abroad who have been representing its interests in several ongoing legal matters.

Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin said the government has been forced to spend millions of dollars in defence – and in some cases on damages awarded.

However, they have experienced success in most of the matters, he said.

“We have had much success and we believe that we will continue to be successful. We are prepared to do whatever we can to resolve these matters quickly. However, all of these different actions, in our view, are unsustainable since they are outside of our jurisdiction in any event and the results have shown so far this has been the case,” Benjamin said.

He said in most cases the government was advised that it is standing on very good grounds.

His remarks followed a ruling on Friday by the Supreme Court of Canada which bars HMB Holdings – which owned an estimated 108 acres of land at Half Moon Bay – from suing the government of Antigua and Barbuda in that jurisdiction.

 In May 2014, the Privy Council ruled that Natalia Querard, the owner of HMB, should be compensated US$26.6 million after the government compulsorily acquired her hotel which had been destroyed by Hurricane Luis in 1995.

 The decision included interest payments at an annual rate of 10.25 percent on the unpaid debt between 2007 and 2011, and four percent from January 2011 until the date of payment. 

Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan spoke about the judgment yesterday in an interview with Observer. He said the judgement by the Canadian court is just one of several matters filed against the government by the same company.

HMB has reportedly filed multiple cases in Antigua, as well as in Florida and another jurisdiction. Astaphan explained that the courts must assess the merits of each claim filed as they are linked to the acquisition of the Half Moon Bay property.

Astaphan said the legal challenges are “borderline forensic harassment”, citing the millions of dollars the government has spent defending them.

“A significant amount of human resources and cost have been expended in seeking to explain to the court and to HMB Holdings that the government cannot pay the lump sum of money that the company is demanding simply because of the situation in the economy.

“We have a conspiracy matter coming up sometime next year and at the same time a conspiracy claim against replay and others in British Columbia has been struck out.

“It is a very unfortunate situation that a government, which is making its best effort to pay in difficult circumstances, has to be subjected to this constant barrage of legal cases where lawyers have to be paid, members of staff of the Legal Affairs Department have to allocated to work on these matters, and it is considerably a costly situation,” Astaphan said.

He added that he welcomed the ruling by the Canadian Supreme Court and expressed optimism for the road ahead.

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