The two members of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) who filed a claim in the High Court nearly two years ago to challenge the Paradise Found (Project) Act, 2015, will get a chance to argue their case before a judge.
That’s because the government lost its application in which it had asked the Court to strike out the case filed by BPM leader Trevor Walker and his colleague, Mackenzie Frank, who are claiming that the law is unconstitutional.
High Court Justice Rosalyn Wilkinson gave her decision to the parties yesterday morning.
The case stems from the BPM’s challenge to the 2015 law which the government allegedly passed to “bypass” the Barbuda Land Act, 2007, to allow billionaire investor James Packer and U.S. movie star Robert DeNiro, to proceed with their U.S. $250 million resort project on the sister island of Barbuda.
Sylvester Carrott, who was one of the lawyers who argued the claim, said the next step is to go to trial.
“What the court held was that on the plain and simple language of the 2007 Barbuda Land Act, the land is held by the Crown for the benefit of the people of Barbuda. The Crown is simply a trustee of the land and therefore owes a fiduciary duty to the people of Barbuda, they cannot just dispose of the land without the consent of the people of Barbuda,” he said.
Carrott said a date has to be set for the hearing of the specific claim before the Court.
“The Court said it will look at other issues as the trial comes up. But, at this stage, the court said it is quite clear that Mr. Walker. and Mr. Frank own the land, as all Barbudans,” he said.
The BPM members contend that because Barbuda’s lands are owned in common by all Barbudans, under the 2007 Land Act, the Paradise Found (Project) Act is unconstitutional.