By Theresa Goodwin
The battle by Barbudans to keep land on the sister isle held in communal ownership will likely end up the before the twin island’s final appellate court – the Privy Council.
This information, from a source close to the high profile case that was filed in the court four years ago, came following a recent decision handed down yesterday by Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC).
While the details of the judgement are still being examined by the both the claimants and the defendants in the case that surrounds, the Paradise Found (Project) Act, 2015, information from both sides confirmed that Political Leader of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) Trevor Walker and founding member MacKenzie Franke have lost the case at the second level, the ECSC.
In essence, the court has ruled in favour of the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP). The Gaston Browne-led administration had petitioned the court to strike out an application filed by the BPM members who were seeking to prevent the government from making amendments to specific sections which stipulate that all land on the sister island is owned in common by the people.
The case was mounted following the passage of the Paradise Found Act of 2015 which nullified critical sections of the Barbuda Land Act.
The BPM members contended that because Barbuda’s land is owned in common by all Barbudans, the Paradise Found Act was unconstitutional. The government lost an earlier application to have the case struck out by a lower court.
The matter was then sent to the Supreme Court and from all indications this will not be the end of the road for the case.
Attorney General and Paradise Found LLC were named as the defendants when the case was first filed in 2016 while Frank and Walker were listed as claimants.
The BPM members are currently being represented by Justin L Simon QC, who told Observer that he would grant an interview after carefully reviewing the judgement.
Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin has given that same commitment.