(CMR) The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal ‘to a limited extent' from Crosby Collymore Ebanks, Wilson Johnson Mendoza, and Mario Alberto Gomez in relation to Lissa Lane after their constitutional petition was rejected in the Grand Court.
The three property owners' lands were affected by The Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure (CPI) plans to create a new public road over what was historically called Lissa Lane, which adjoins King Road in the North West Block of West Bay.
They contended that they were deprived of full and fair access to the Grand Court to protect their property rights, guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. In a judgment delivered on 4th October 2021, the Hon. Justice Cheryll Richards QC rejected their Constitutional Petition. They then filed an appeal against her decision.
In a judgment published on Friday, 31 March, The Appeal Court, while not quashing the previous decision of the Grand Court, allowed the appeal on the grounds that the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure's failure to publish and publicize its process of consultation where a Declaration of Intent is gazetted pursuant to section 3 of the Roads Act (2005 Revision) did not comply with the requirement under section 15(1) that any proposed interference with the peaceful enjoyment of property or the taking of property must be in accordance with the law.
The RT Hon. Sir Alan Moses, Justice of Appeal, said, “To that limited extent, I would allow this appeal. I would add that aCourtder the court makes as to costs both here and below is likely to reflect my comments on the conduct of this case which led to a second hearing which ought to have been unnecessary.”
According to section 15(1) of the Bill of Rights, Freedoms, and Responsibilities contained in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009:
15. (1) Government shall not interfere in the peaceful enjoyment of any person’s property and shall not compulsorily take possession of any person’s property, or compulsorily acquire an interest in or right over any person’s property of any description, except in accordance with law and where—
…(c) provision is made by a law applicable to that interference, taking of possession or acquisition —
(i) for the prompt payment of adequate compensation; and
(ii) securing to any person having an interest in or right over the property a right of access to the Grand Court, whether direct or on appeal from any other authority, for the determination of his or her interest or right, the legality of the interference with, taking of possession or acquisition of the property, interest or right, and the amount of any compensation to which he or she is entitled, and for the purpose of obtaining prompt payment of that compensation; and
(iii) giving to any party to proceedings in the Grand Court relating to such a claim the same rights ofCourtal as are accorded generally to parties to civil proceedings in that Court sitting as a court of original jurisdiction.”
The Appeal Court said it is important that any future proposal under the Roads Act is “ in accordance with the law” so as to comply with section 15 of the Bill of Rights.
In 2019 Mendoza and the other appellants requested an injunction from the Grand Court stating that they were not properly compensated for their property. Since then, there have been several disputes as the landowners continued to claim injustice and even sought to block persons from using the road. There have also been allegations of serious threats being issued against persons as a result of Lissa Lane.