Property owners in the Britannia Estates development say they plan to “vigorously defend” their rights to use golf and beach facilities at properties now owned by the Dart group.
A liaison committee, representing the homeowners, released a statement Thursday saying covenants guaranteeing them use of those amenities had been an attractive feature in their decision to buy into the development in the first place. They have hired a legal team to fight Dart’s efforts to have those covenants removed from the Land Register.
Dart has filed a lawsuit seeking to free itself from these restrictive agreements, which guarantee Britannia owners use of the Britannia Golf Club and Grand Cayman Beach Suites. The developer bought both properties along with the old Hyatt hotel in 2016. The golf course has since closed and the Beach Suites has been redeveloped as a boutique hotel.
In a writ filed with the Grand Court last month, 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. They are asking that those incumbrances be removed.
In its statement, the Britannia Liaison Committee said it had instructed a “heavyweight legal team” including John Randall, QC, of St. Phillips Chambers in the U.K. and leading Cayman Islands law firm Walkers to fight the case.
The committee said, “Over the past 25 years, homeowners in Britannia have bought properties in good faith, with the knowledge that certain rights were clearly registered in their favour on the Cayman Islands Land Register. The existence of these rights and the reliability of the register have been an attractive feature to owners, residents and prospective purchasers in Britannia. The BLC is confident that the Courts of the Cayman Islands will uphold these rights, and decline to grant Dart any order for their cancellation and deletion.”
Kim Lund, who owns a property in Britannia and is acting as a spokesperson for the liaison committee, said removing those rights now would add millions of dollars to the value of the land, which was bought with the covenants attached. If that happens, he said it would have negative impact on other developments, with similar covenants.
“This is a huge precedent for the Cayman Islands. If a developer can strip away rights that people have enjoyed for 25 years, people are going to question whether to invest in real estate in the Cayman Islands.”
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 had no immediate comment to make on the Britannia owners’ statement, but last month, the company stated, “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.”