Dart Realty will go to court Friday morning, seeking to join the governor, attorney general and two other official agencies in defending against a petition to overturn transfer of the West Bay Road to the company.
Scheduled for Courtroom 5 at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, the Grand Court hearing before Cayman Islands Justice Alexander Henderson was moved on Thursday from his chambers to facilitate public access to the session as Dart Realty seeks a slot among the respondents to a Feb. 25 petition claiming the transfer of 4,290 feet of the road near Public Beach in Grand Cayman was unconstitutional, violated due process, was “irrational” and, in sum, “ultra vires,” outside the law.
Dart Realty was not named in the original petition, filed by longtime West Bay residents Alice Mae Coe, Annie Multon, Ezmie Smith and Betty Ebanks, counseled by attorney Irvin Banks.
The detailed 21-page petition sought redress from four government bodies, including the National Roads Authority and the Ministry of Works, at the time under former Cayman Islands Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.
Administrative changes have not, however, affected disposition of the suit, last in Justice Henderson’s courtroom on July 25, when Mourant Ozannes counsel for the attorney general reversed previous efforts to throw out the petition, announcing instead his chambers would pursue the matter. Attorney Hector Robinson offered the court no reasons for the reversal.
Dart will be represented Friday morning by Maples and Calder law firm as the company believes its stake is threatened in the public-private ForCayman Investment Alliance, formed in mid-2011 with the former United Democratic Party administration for an island-wide range of infrastructure initiatives.
A subsidiary agreement in December 2011 among Dart, the administration and National Roads Authority cleared the way for work to start immediately around the road corridor, entailing renovation of the old Marriott Courtyard hotel, converting it into a beachfront property by closing the portion of the road separating it from Public Beach, accompanied by a $35 million extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to Yacht Drive.
In a Wednesday statement, Dart Realty said it sought to defend its interests in the project.
“The NRA agreement, signed in December 2011, is a binding agreement between the Cayman Islands government, the National Roads Authority and Dart Realty. Earlier this year, four private citizens brought an action against government seeking, among other things, a declaration that certain parts of the agreement are invalid,” the statement said, without attribution.
“The plaintiffs’ claim, if successful,” the company explained, “would directly affect Dart Realty’s existing rights and obligations under the agreement and impact the viability of projects undertaken relying on the agreement, which will provide benefits to the local community and economy.
“As a result, Dart Realty has applied to the court to be joined as a party to the action. Government has consented to our joining while the plaintiffs have objected. Should Dart Realty be joined as a party, our legal team will work cooperatively with the government’s team to defend the action and comply with the timetable set by the court,” the statement said.
Justice Henderson has set three days, starting Dec. 11, to hear the matter.
In a Thursday statement following Dart Realty’s declaration, Mr. Banks detailed the plaintiffs’ opposition to the company’s application.
“The plaintiffs oppose the application because: (a) Dart Realty [has] had since February of this year to file an application to join in the proceedings. They did not do so. (b) The plaintiffs feel there is little Dart Realty could add to the government’s defense undertaken by the attorney general’s office by becoming another defendant in the proceedings (which are essentially based on government’s alleged non-adherence to constitutional principles) and frankly clogging up the action unnecessarily and at extra cost all round.”
Dart declined to comment about the company’s reluctance to join the suit before now.