Boat captains secure injunction until trial

Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie ruled to protect several boat captains’ rights to continue using a piece of land in SafeHaven for their boats and businesses.  

The chief justice Wednesday extended a previous court-ordered injunction that preserves the status quo with regard to use of certain SafeHaven land and ordered that the matter go to trial. 

The proceedings centre around a piece of land in the SafeHaven area that the captains claim they have used as a docking and loading area for more than 20 years. The land is owned by the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands and is being leased to the Dragon Bay Development to be developed into a new marina.  

The captains previously won a temporary injunction against any further work on the site that would impede access and infringe on their business operations. This was done primarily so the integrity of the site would remain fundamentally unchanged before the chief justice returned his decision about whether the matter would go to trial. 

In his decision, Justice Smellie said that part of his consideration was that measures had to be taken to preserve the site. He added that it was evident that the boat operators have carried on business interests that generate substantial funds on the land. He said the boat operators felt their rights were being sold away and are concerned about the developer’s aims and objectives. 

“I am satisfied that the balance of convenience is with the plaintiffs and grant the interlocutory injunction until trial,” Justice Smellie said. The ruling means that the developers of the site can do no more work that will lead to fundamental changes to the integrity of the area until the end of the trial. 

Justice Smellie invited both sides to look at mediation options.  

The captains claim to have prescriptive rights with regard to the land based on their 20 years as a user of the site. They also contend that the interim site being provided by the developers is not adequate and as such, a hindrance to their businesses. The boat operators added that they have invested in docking facilities on the land and as a result are entitled to its use. They said they believed that the port authority does not have the authority nor is not empowered, under the law, to foster the efforts of the developer with regard to the land in question.  

There are now two interim sites that have been provided for boat and water sports operators and a new marina is expected to replace the old one the men are now suing to continue using. The public and the boat operators are expected to also have access to the new marina.  

Attorneys for the defendants/developers had argued that the “Balance of Convenience” should rest with them, as the greater public good had to be considered in such undertakings and there were other boat operators and water sports businesses that were being inconvenienced by having to wait longer for the new marina. 

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The notice at SafeHaven ordering that water sport operators vacate the area by 13 August. – PHOTO: NORMA CONNOLLY

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