The land dispute between businessman Leon ‘Bigger Biggs’ Samuel and the state rages on, with the legal team for Samuel blocking another attempt by the state to have Samuel’s claim struck out completely.
“Two rounds so far, this case is far from over, but on two rounds so far ‘Bigger’ has won,” one of Samuel’s lawyers, Jomo Thomas stated at his Chambers where a press conference was held Wednesday, January 6.
Thomas, along with queen’s counsel Stanley ‘Stalky’ John and counsel Akin John of Elizabeth Law Chambers make up the legal team for Samuel, the managing director of Bigger Cement and Aggregate Incorporated.
“We are confident that when this matter gets the full light of day that the court would again deliver a crushing legal defeat to this vindictive, nasty, repulsive attempt to damage ‘Bigger Biggs’ in his property rights, to crush him for something which he should be allowed to do as any other citizen in this country,” Thomas continued.
His client, Samuel, has been butting heads with the state on several issues over the years, including the revocation of his mining license at one point.
However, in this matter, the businessman contends that the 3.5450 acres of land nearest to the Rabacca River, and 5.4321 acres nearest to the Lady Jane/Langley Park Dry River are lands beneficially owned by him.
It has become necessary for ‘Bigger Biggs’ to argue this, because the state carried out a survey, led by senior surveyor Alrick Williams in March 2019 which shows that the crown(state) is the legal owner of this land.
The legal team must now seek a declaration from the court that land depicted as crown land (State land) or crown boundary on Survey Plan No C1842, lodged at the Lands and Surveys Department on April 30, 2019, is not in fact crown land/crown boundary.
They also argue that the survey done was not performed pursuant to the Crown Lands Act Cap 319 and was consequently illegal and void.
Samuel has vehemently opposed the state’s survey since the beginning, and was consequently arrested and charged for obstructing the senior surveyor and his assistants when they were attempting to carry out the survey at Rabacca.
His opposition has morphed into a legal standoff, which Thomas described on Wednesday as a “very, very important constitutional case.”
In round one, the defendant, the Governor General (figure head of the State) represented by the Attorney General, argued that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the claim.
The Governor General’s application was dismissed in June 2020, and therefore round one went to Samuel’s team.
“In July of last year the Attorney General’s office then filed an application seeking leave or the permission of the court to appeal the decision dismissing the application,” counsel Akin John informed at the press conference.
The counsel said that they “opposed that application strenuously as being without merit and on the basis that there was no prospect whatsoever of the state succeeding if the matter were to be heard at appeal.”
Justice Esco Henry, who has been hearing the matters concerning this claim, heard this application in December 2020, and delivered her oral decision on December 16, dismissing it.
Her ruling, which was put into writing on December 21, also dismissed the Governor General’s application to have a stay of the June 24, 2020 order.
Further, “the Governor General shall pay to Bigger Cement and Aggregate Incorporated costs pursuant to CPR 65.11 to be assessed if not agreed.”
John said that what is critical in this decision by Henry is that it states that, “there is no merit to the proposed ground of appeal and that the attorney general had no realistic chance of success.”
“Totally, and absolutely vindicating the position that Bigger had taken in opposing the application,” he stated, therefore representing their second win.
With these applications by the state intervening in the process, the court has yet to hear the actual claim, but John has expressed that they are working on having the substantive claim heard “within the shortest possible period of time.”
Samuel stated that he wished to thank everyone who has been supportive of him going forward with the issue.
“We’re at a very early stage but I must say at this time that I’m very comfortable with a magnificent team of lawyers who I refer to now as the managers of this issue,” he commented.
“I’m no longer managing it; it is in the capable hands of a Queen’s Counsel, a magnificent lawyer in terms of Jomo Thomas, and Akin, who is the son of Queen’s Counsel John. I could not have asked for a better team of lawyers,” he said.