July 6, 2007
Foreign investors forfeit lands at Chatam Bay

June 29th marked a victory for St. Vincent and the Grenadines as 100 acres of land at Chatam Bay, Union Island was forfeited from foreign investors and vested in the Crown.{{more}}

The ruling for the case, titled ‘Attorney General v. Chatam Bay Club Ltd. And Chatam Bay Development Corp., Ltd.’, was delivered June 29th 2007 after a hearing on April 3rd 2007. The land, whose sale to the purchasers, Chatam Bay Club Ltd. and Chatam Bay Development Corp. Ltd. at a cost of $435,000 was approved in 1987 by the New Democratic Party (NDP) administration, was forfeited on the grounds that the purchaser had failed to comply with the conditions of their Alien’s Land Holding act, which included the construction of 2 restaurants and a minimum 55 guest rooms. The License also stated that a minimum of $15 million be spent on construction within 3 years of the grant of the license.

Failing attempts at a negotiated settlement, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government brought forward the suit, whereby the Purchaser resisted by claiming that Prime Minister Mitchell had verbally waived the terms of the License, that the government’s actions were too late, and that the forfeiture of the land without inadequate compensation was unconstitutional. The High Court rejected these, stating that Prime Minister Mitchell had only agreed on giving the purchaser more time to pursue the project, that compensation was not necessary in the case of forfeiture, and that the government’s patience in the situation warranted their request for forfeiture.

A release from the Office of the Prime Minister stated that this is a “resounding nationalist victory for the people of St.Vincent and the Grenadines”, adding that foreign investment is welcome if it promises to come to fruition, but not for those who do not act in the interest of the citizens”.

The Government was represented by attorneys Anthony Astaphan, S.C., Senators Rochelle Ford and Ronald Marks, and Senior Crown Counsel Camillo Gonsalves, and the purchasers represented by Parnell Campbell, Q.C, James Guthrie, Q.C, and Macaulay Peters.