Jun 30, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George -Wiltshire yesterday handed down a ruling which essentially bars the National Industrial Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), the state-owned privatisation company, from reclaiming lands that it leased to several private individuals and entities.
According to documents seen by this publication, the ruling delivered virtually from the High Court in Georgetown pertains to a legal challenge mounted by businessman and proprietor of Universal Janitorial Services, Ian Edwards and eight other persons against NICIL after the company took a decision to cancel their lease for the occupation of lands once owned by Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), Limited.
NICIL had acquired several plots of land after the previous A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition administration shut down sugar estates at Enmore, Rose Hall, and Wales between 2015 and 2017.
The APNU+AFC had subsequently allowed the properties to be divested and leased to private individuals and companies through NICIL. However, sometime last year, after a new administration came into place, NICIL moved to reclaim the lands by issuing notice to cancel the leases. According to legal papers, the NICIL’s Privatisation Unit, sought to reclaim the land for the purpose of resuscitating the operations of the GUYSUCO estates.
In her ruling yesterday, Justice George-Wiltshire told the Court that she found the decision of NICIL to terminate the lease agreement, and to seek repossession of the GUYSUCO leased properties from the claimants (Edwards and others), unreasonable since it deprives them of legitimate expectation.
The claimants in their court action had asked the court to reverse the decision of NICIL to cancel their leases since the cancellation was not expected or in keeping with grounds of their lease agreement. In this regard, the Chief Justice in her overview of case, noted that there was no mention or clause contained in the lease agreement which pointed to instances of termination of the contract in the in the instance of a possibility of resuscitation of the work of the sugar estates.
As such, the judge upheld the contention outlined by the occupants of the land, that “the decision to terminate the leases deprives them of the legitimate expectation and is unreasonable, void and of no effect.”
In the Statement of Claim (SOC) matter filed last November, the occupants had sought several declarations, including that the various notices of termination issued by NICIL in pursuance of their decision to cancel the leases are similarly null , void and of no legal effect . The group also sought a declaration that lease agreement signed between the parties remains valid and enforced subsisting. Several of the reliefs sought by the group were granted by the Court.
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