Vista Del Mar dispute going to Privy Council

A dispute between Vista Del Mar Developments Ltd. and two people who purchased a plot of land there has made its way up to the territory’s highest court, the London-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The dispute is over whether Vista Del Mar – a gated community in West Bay comprised of oceanfront and canalfront lots – has the right to repurchase the plot of land for $462,460.

According to court documents, Vista Del Mar has contracts with its property purchasers stating that they must build residences on their lots within certain time frames. Otherwise, the residential development has the right to repurchase the land.

The property purchasers in this case, Janet Francis and Dwight Clarke, purchased their plot in May 2009 and were supposed to commence construction by November 2010, an appeals court judgment on the matter states.

The purchasers were granted an extension, but still had not commenced construction by October 2013. On that month, Vista Del Mar told them that it intended to repurchase the plot for its original purchase price, $462,460.

More discussions ensued where the property owners insisted that construction would start soon. But with still no building started by October 2014, Vista Del Mar issued its writ seeking to enforce the repurchase agreement.

At the Grand Court hearing, the property owners argued that the repurchase should not be enforced for several reasons, including that the alleged option had lapsed and because Vista Del Mar came to court with “unclean hands,” in that it had enforced the covenants requiring construction of residences in an uneven and discriminatory manner.

“They contended that … for [Vista Del Mar] not to have exercised the option against some of those owners who did not construct a residence while exercising it in the case of themselves was so inequitable as to constitute ‘dirty hands,’” wrote Justice of Appeal Sir Richard Field in his judgement.

In a September 2016 judgment, Grand Court Justice Ingrid Mangatal rejected all of Ms. Francis’s and Mr. Clarke’s arguments. A June 2017 appeals court ruling also rejected their arguments.

At a hearing scheduled for Nov. 27, the Privy Council will consider whether Vista Del Mar exercised the repurchase option within a “reasonable time,” and whether the development acted fairly in its enforcement of the option with Ms. Francis and Mr. Clarke compared to other property owners.

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