Port Authority being sued

The Port Authority of the Cayman Islands was issued a Writ of Summons on Monday by a potential leaseholder of a retail shop at the soon-to-be-complete Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.

Peter Campbell, the plaintiff in the action, claimed he was granted the lease rights to a 768-square-foot space identified as unit 6 at Royal Watler by virtue of a letter from the Ministry of Tourism, which was copied to the Cayman Islands Port Authority.

The Writ states the letter ‘clearly recognised and understood’ that an agreement had been entered into subject to the completion of a formal document.

According to the Writ, Mr. Campbell had applied to the former Chairman of the Port Authority for the allocation of a leasehold space for a business called Le Fragrance de le Monde.

The writ claims the Port Authority subsequently wrote to Mr. Campbell on 7 September 2005 and said the letter from the Ministry of Tourism was sent without its permission.

Attorney Clyde Allen, who represents Mr. Campbell, said his client had what is known as a contract to make a contract, which is binding under the law.

‘Mr. Campbell understood he had a contract to enter a formal lease,’ Mr. Allen said. ‘He has now been told that is not the case.

‘As a result of the Port Authority’s refusal to grant him this space, he has commenced these proceedings to seek a direction from the Court.’

The Writ also states an application was made on Mr. Campbell’s behalf on 17 November, 2005 to lodge a caution on the property on the Land Register.

‘The Registrar of Lands has not to date lodged a caution under section 128 of the Registered Land Law (1995 Revision) on the grounds…’ the Writ states.

Mr. Allen said he understands others are affected by the Port Authority’s decision as well.

Current Minister with responsibility of the Port Authority Charles Clifford said he was unaware the Writ had been filed.

‘All I can say is when I took office, I learned there were a number of issues associated with the retail shops,’ he said. ‘There were a number of irregularities. I asked the Port Authority board to take a look at it, and to take appropriate action.’

Auditor General Dan Duguay said the recently completed Port Authority audit on the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal did not delve into the allocation of lease spaces.

‘It only looked at the financial projections going forward and the viability of the retail aspect,’ he said. ‘We looked at the potential revenue versus expenses, that sort of thing.’

However, Mr. Duguay said the rental process could be of interest to his office.

‘Although we haven’t looked at the leasing aspect yet, we will continue to monitor the on-going activities at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal,’ he said.

The Port Authority has recently been advertising that it is now leasing the retail space at Royal Watler.

There are 19 retail spaces available at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, said Nigel Bates, Chief Valuation Officer at Lands and Survey, which is assisting the Port Authority in its current leasing efforts.

The spaces, which range in size from 200 square feet to 3,000 square feet, will rent for a price between CI$100 and CI$165 per square foot, Mr. Bates said.

Mr. Bates said the lease package gives a date of 13 January as a deadline for lease applications.

‘We hope by the end of January we’ll have the applications collated and a report completed with recommendations to the Port Authority Board of who we should continue to talk to.’

Final lease arrangements would be subject to negotiations he said.

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