Court of Appeal clarifies the approach to compensation for compulsorily acquired land, injurious affection, and to the computation of interest awards in compensation claims, under the Land Acquisition Act of Anguilla.
In Estate of Dame Bernice Lake et al v The Attorney General of Anguilla this Court evaluated the compensation award made by a Board of Assessment for land which was compulsorily acquired by the Government of Anguilla pursuant to the Land Acquisition Act of Anguilla (“the Act”). The Court assessed the appropriateness of the compensation awarded to the Estate of Dame Bernice Lake, QC for the acquisition of Dame Bernice Lake’s land, the compensation awarded to her for the injurious affection (or decrease in value) of her adjoining land, and the interest on the compensation awards.
In assessing the award of the Board of Assessment, the Court made a number of findings which will affect the way compensation will be awarded in future compensation claims of this nature.
First, the Court held that the valuation of compulsorily acquired land ought to be undertaken on the open market value of land, and that the acquired land must be valued in the context of the larger parcel from which it was severed.
Second, the Court held that compensation for acquired land must be assessed having regard to the highest and best use of the land, and defined highest and best use as the most profitable use to which land could be put that is legally permissible, physically possible and financially feasible.
Third, the Court considered the occurrence of injurious affection, and explained that it could only arise when a piece of land was compulsorily acquired from a larger portion of land, and the acquired land is intended to be or is actually used for a scheme or project which adversely affects the value of the remainder of the land.
Fourth, the Court found that in order to receive compensation for acquired land, one must be the owner of that land at the time of the acquisition. However, one need not be the owner of adjoining lands at the time of an acquisition to receive compensation for the injurious affection of the adjoining land.
Fifth, the Court considered the computation of interest in land acquisition cases where the quantum of compensation is in dispute. The Court found that the relevant dates to and from which interest on the compensation awarded for acquired land should run are: (1) the date of the acquisition (start date); and (2) the date on which compensation is awarded by the Board of Assessment (end date). In the case of land which is acquired by the Government, and thereafter re-vested to the original land owner, the relevant dates are: (1) the date of acquisition (start); and (2) the date on which the land was re-vested (end).
The Court’s analysis of this appeal is rounded by its comments on the legal status and applicability of the International Valuation Standards, the Land Compensation Manual and the RICS Valuation Standards. The Court concluded that these publications did not enjoy the legal status to oust its jurisdiction to consider land valuation reports which were made in breach of the standards and rules contained in those publications.
In allowing the appeal in part, the Court varied the awards of compensation made to the Estate of Dame Bernice Lake, and the awards of interest made, in light of the principles which it deemed applicable to land valuation in Anguilla.
The Court of Appeal in Dr. Martin Didier et al v Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. held that the court will not order security for costs solely because the claimant is ordinarily resident outside the jurisdiction. However, a non-resident claimant with no assets in the jurisdiction will, in all likelihood, be required to put up security for the defendant’s costs.
In Dr. Martin Didier et al v Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., this Court considered an appeal against the judgment of a High Court Master. The master refused an application, made by Dr. Martin Didier and the other named appellants, for an order that Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited provides security for the appellants’ costs in the proceedings in the lower court. Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited is a company registered in Liberia with its registered office in Monrovia.
The Court held that it would not order security for costs on the sole basis that the claimant in the matter is ordinarily resident outside the jurisdiction of the court. The court however made it clear that a non-resident claimant with no assets in the court’s jurisdiction will likely be required to put up the security for the costs of the defendant. This ruling is based on the general principle that the court has the discretion, supported by rules 24.2 and 24.3 of the Civil Procedure Rules 2000, to make an order that a claimant is to put up security for a defendants costs once the court is satisfied “that there is a significant risk of the defendant suffering an injustice by having to pay to defend the proceedings, with no real prospect of being able to recover his costs if he is eventually successful.”
This Court was guided by the decision of the Court of Appeal of England in the case of Berkeley Administration Inc. and others v McClelland and others. The simple principle coming out of that authority is that the plaintiff being a resident abroad is not per se a ground for making the order. However, this Court having assessed the facts, acknowledged and applied the important point that a “non-resident claimant with no assets in the jurisdiction will, in all likelihood, be required to put up security for the defendant’s costs.”
Interestingly, this Court highlighted that Berkeley Administration Inc “coincidentally…made the point that a ‘one ship’ company resident in Liberia with no local assets will not contest the making of an order, only the quantum of costs to be posted.” Acknowledging though, that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. was by no means a “one ship” company, this Court stated that “there is no evidence that it has assets in Saint Lucia, and the only ship about which there are any details (Explorer of the Seas) flies a Bahamian flag.” Given the circumstances this Court concluded that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. does not have assets in the jurisdiction and there are potentially uncertain difficulties and expenses associated with enforcing a costs order against it, either in the jurisdiction or elsewhere. This Court conclusively found that it would be just to make an order that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. provide security for the costs of the appellants.
The Court of Appeal in Steadroy Matthews v Garna O’neal held that the Court has jurisdiction to award pre-judgment interest. In doing so the Court reaffirms the decision of Andrey Adamovsky et al v Andriy Malitskiy et al and declares Alphonso v Ramnath good law.
In Steadroy Matthews v Garna O’neal , this Court considered whether a court in the BVI has jurisdiction to award pre-judgment interest on general damages and thus whether the the High Court judge was entitled to award pre-judgment interest or if such a decision was an error in law.
The Court held that having regard to Alphonso v Ramnath, it did not specifically peg its decision on the judgment in Jefford v Gee, an English case which was challenged on the fact that England had specific legislation providing for prejudgment interest and the BVI did not. The Court stated that, in Alphonso v Ramnath it made a pronouncement which has since been followed by courts throughout the Eastern Caribbean.
Furthermore, the Court held that section 3 (1) of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934 (the UK Act) is applicable in the BVI by virtue of section 7 of the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court (Virgin Islands) Act, which provides that: “The High Court shall have and exercise within the Territory all such jurisdiction (save and except the jurisdiction in Admiralty) and the same powers and authorities incidental to such jurisdiction as on the first day of January, 1940 was vested in the High Court of Justice in England.”
The Court noted that the judgment in Alphonso v Ramnath, has not been overruled by any higher court but instead, has been reinforced by the judgment of the Privy Council in another BVI appeal in the case of Creque v Penn. The Court illustrated that in that case, the Privy Council held that: “They are satisfied that the court had jurisdiction to award pre-judgment…”.
Alphonso v Ramnath is now settled law in the Territory of the Virgin Islands on the issue of pre-judgment interest on damages, and that its authority is buttressed by the judgment of this Court in Adamovsky v Malitskiy, in which this Court stated “It cannot be disputed that a party wrongfully deprived by another of money to which the first party is entitled ought to be compensated for his loss, not just by an award to him of the sum of money to which he was entitled, but so too by an award of the time value of the money from the date of its appropriation to the date on which it is ordered to be paid to him. This latter award is what is referred to as an award of pre-judgment interest”.
From Steadroy Matthews v Garna O’Neal, an issue of contention is now settled, in that even where states do not specifically provide for prejudgment interest by statute, the Court has the discretion to award interest on damages to a claimant from the date of the loss to the date of judgment.
Court of Appeal rules that the Government of Grenada as the “visitor” of the Saint George’s University has sole and exclusive jurisdiction to deal with the internal affairs of the University
In Rajiv Gunness v Saint George’s University Limited et al, this Court considered whether the Government of Grenada was a visitor of the University on a proper construction of Article 2 of the Second Schedule of the Saint George’s University Limited Act.
The Court held that having regard to the nature of the visitor’s jurisdiction, the appointment of a visitor must be expressed. No particular form of words is necessary but the intention is to be gleaned from the statute. In interpreting legislative provisions, the court would adopt a purposive interpretation so as to give effect to what is taken to have been intended by Parliament. However, the court has no power to improve upon the instrument which it is called upon to construe; it can only discover what the instrument means. In this connection, the Court found that under Article 2 titled “Visitation Rights”, the parties agreed for the government to be the visitor of the University with full visitation rights with the government determining the person or persons who will exercise the rights on behalf of the government.
In dismissing the appeal, the Court held that a visitor has sole and exclusive jurisdiction over the internal affairs of a university. A dispute as to the correct interpretation and fair administration of the domestic laws of the university falls within the jurisdiction of the visitor, therefore the Court usually lacks jurisdiction in the first instance to interfere. However, a decision of the university visitor may be amenable to judicial review as the visitor is susceptible to the supervisory jurisdiction of the court. The dispute in this case being a disciplinary matter and being grounded in the domestic laws of the University, was a matter which fell squarely within the internal management of the University and therefore was a matter within the jurisdiction of the visitor.
In Phillip Brelsford et al v Providence Estate Limited, this Court considered whether land transfer instruments were effective in transferring title to a purchaser, notwithstanding their non-compliance with the registration requirements of section 107 of the Registered Land Act of Montserrat (“the Act”).
The Court held that once registration is effected, it must attract the consequences which the Act attaches to registration, whether the registration was regular or otherwise. As it is the registration and not its antecedents which vests and divests title, the failure by a vendor to execute the land transfer instruments in accordance with section 107 of the Act does not affect the validity of a purchaser’s title. In other words, once a purchaser is registered as a proprietor of a parcel, that purchaser acquires title to that parcel, notwithstanding any irregularity that may have occurred with respect to the vendor. Furthermore, in the absence of fraud or mistake, the conditions for rectification of the register under section 140 of the Act do not arise and the court has no jurisdiction to otherwise order rectification, that is, cancellation or correction of the register.
In the case at bar, the land transfers made in the purchasers’ favour were void as they were not the act of the vendor, but were executed by a person purporting to be the vendors’ representative. Notwithstanding, the void transaction does not give rise to an equitable interest in the property itself, but could however give rise to the equitable right to sue for recovery of the land, and the purchasers as the new registered proprietors of the land would hold their titles subject to this right.
In Alcedo Tyson v The Queen, this Court considered whether section 27(b) of the BVI Jury Act, which gives the Crown the unlimited right to stand-by jurors in criminal proceedings, infringes the equality of arms provision enshrined in section 16 (the fair hearing provision) of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007. At the appellant’s trial the Crown stood-by 21 potential jurors without ascribing any reason. The appellant contended that this was likely to lead the fair-minded observer to find that the selection of an independent and impartial tribunal was biased.
The court held that section 27(b) of the Jury Act is unconstitutional due to the extreme disparity it creates in the jury selection process. The court underscored that the section permits the infringement of the principle of equality of arms by making the defendant’s position extremely weaker than that of the Crown, as a defendant is afforded merely 3 peremptory challenges under the Act. The court found that the Crown’s unlimited right to stand-by jurors was not justifiable in the public interest since section 28 of the Act allows the Crown to challenge a juror for cause if, in the opinion of the presiding judge, it is improper or inadvisable for the juror challenged to be impaneled. Section 28 of the Act therefore safeguards the selection of a competent jury. Consequently, the Crown would not be disadvantaged in the jury selection process by the removal of its unlimited right of stand-by.
In allowing the appeal, the court held that section 27(b) of the Act infringed the appellant’s substantive fundamental right to a fair trial by an impartial court as the perception of bias in the selection process may have resulted in the perception of bias during the trial, and in effect rendered his conviction unsafe.
In the Director of Public Prosecutions et al v Roddy Felix et al this Court considered whether the power of the Director of Public Prosecutions and/or the Commissioner of Police to initiate criminal proceedings is suspended pending the outcome of a coroner’s inquiry in circumstances that bring section 9 of the Coroners Act into play.
The Court examined the relationship between section 71 of the Grenada Constitution Order, 1973 which deals with the DPP’s power to initiate, take over and continue, or discontinue criminal proceedings etc and the Coroners Act. The Court held that both the DPP and the Commissioner have the power to initiate criminal proceedings and that nothing in the Coroners Act postpones or takes away that right. If these officials have to await the outcome of a coroner’s inquest before they can initiate criminal proceedings, it would be a restriction on their powers, and, in the case of the DPP, a breach of section 71 of the Constitution. The Coroners Act contains one of the two ways of initiating criminal proceedings in the case of a suspicious death of a person in custody. It does not shut out or postpone the alternative route of the Commissioner or the DPP exercising their independent power to initiate murder or manslaughter proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court.
The Court also found that the DPP’s powers to initiate, take over and continue, or discontinue criminal proceedings at such times as the DDP sees fit are clearly defined in section 71 of the Constitution. Restricting the DPP’s constitutional power to prosecute criminal offences by an existing law, namely, section 9 of the Coroners Act, would be an improper, if not contrary use of the existing law principle. Section 9 should not be construed by reading into the section a limit on the DPP’s constitutional powers. If anything, the coroner’s mandatory duty under section 9 should be construed as being subject to the DPP’s overarching constitutional power to control criminal proceedings. The power to prevent the DPP and the Commissioner from commencing criminal proceedings was not included in the Coroners Act and that power should not be implied into the Act. Even if the power could be implied into section 9, it would be inconsistent with section 71 of the Constitution and to that extent would be void, or, as an existing law, would be required to be read with such modification as to yield to the provisions of section 71 of the Constitution.