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.