The Dart group is seeking to free itself from restrictive agreements guaranteeing home owners in the luxury Britannia Estates development the right to use golf, tennis and beach facilities associated with its properties.
Dart bought the old Hyatt hotel, the Beach Suites and the Britannia golf course in 2016.
When those properties were first developed, restrictive agreements that provided golf, tennis and beach access for homeowners in the neighboring Britannia development were registered against the title to the properties.
In a writ filed with the Grand Court Friday, lawyers acting for Dart argue that those agreements were simply contractual arrangements that should not be legally binding on Dart as the new owner.
They claim the Registrar of Lands, listed as a defendant in the lawsuit along with various Britannia strata groups, should never have officially registered these rights as “incumbrances” that transferred with the ownership of the properties.
The dispute has been rumbling for more than two years, with multiple meetings held between Dart and the homeowners in an effort to find a resolution to the impasse outside the courtroom.
Dart said in a press statement that it is now seeking a declaration from the Grand Court on the “correct legal status” of the agreements.
The effect of the lawsuit, if successful on all points, would be to remove any legal obligation for Dart to provide any services or rights of access to Britannia owners.
Dart closed the golf course and the Beach Suites in 2016. The Beach Suites is on the brink of reopening as an unbranded boutique hotel but the golf course remains closed.
Paul Simon, an attorney who previously represented the Britannia owners, said Tuesday he had not seen the court filing and could not comment.
Mr. Simon outlined the concerns of the Britannia owners following the sale of the amenities to Dart in 2016.
In a press statement at the time, he said, “The home owners at Britannia have over the course of the last 30 years, bought their properties in good faith with the knowledge that there are certain rights registered in their favour to use the facilities at the Britannia Golf Club and Grand Cayman Beach Suites.”
Dart has not outlined its long-term plans for the properties.
Lawyers for Dart indicate in the lawsuit that some of the facilities in question no longer exist. For example, the tennis courts linked to the Hyatt property have not been restored since Hurricane Ivan.
In a press statement Tuesday, Dart said: “There has been a disagreement between Dart and the Britannia residents as to the correct legal status of the restrictive agreements.
“Over the course of the last two years, there have been meetings and communication between Dart and Britannia representatives to discuss options for resolution of the issue, but the parties failed to reach an agreement.”
The proceeding will permit the participation of the three Britannia strata corporations and all Britannia landowners who choose to participate.
Dart asserts in its legal application that the then Registrar of Lands improperly performed his legal duties by registering these types of agreements on the relevant property registers and that Dart is entitled in law to have the restrictive agreements removed from the property registers of the acquired properties.
The statement adds, “The Cayman Islands has a reliable and respected land titles system which has been at the core of the jurisdiction’s appeal to both local and international property investors. In addition, Cayman courts are internationally recognized for delivering fair and thorough decisions in complex disputes.
“Dart has every confidence that the Grand Court will appropriately consider and decide the important legal issues involving the restrictive agreements and that such decision will give clarity to what Dart regards as an open legal issue in this jurisdiction.”