Government Ordered to Pay Millions in Land Compensation Case

Government Ordered to Pay Millions in Land Compensation Case

The land compensation case between the Government of Belize and Primrose Gabourel came to an end today with the government ordered by the Caribbean Court of Justice to pay in the millions.  In a judgment delivered by Justice Denys Barrow, the CCJ ordered that government pay Gabourel over four and a half million dollars, for the compulsory acquisition of her property in the Buttonwood Bay Area of Belize City back in February 2007. In his summation, Justice Barrow recounted that Gabourel had won over one point four million dollars in the court of appeal last June. The appellants, the Attorney General of Belize and the Minister of Natural Resources took the matter to the CCJ, attempting to reduce the value of the payout. Instead, however, the government will be paying more than three times the amount awarded at the Court of Appeal.  Here is a snippet of Justice Barrow’s judgment.

Denys Barrow, Justice of the CCJ: “The two leading grounds of the Appellant’s appeal to this Court are to the effect that the Court of Appeal was wrong to accept the Respondent’s valuation because it proceeded on a faulty premise and considered irrelevant material, and further, the Court of Appeal was wrong to remit the valuation. The Appellant also asked this Court to restore the decision of the High Court. This court distinguished the present case from its recent judgment in Belmopan Land Development Corporation Limited against the Attorney General of Belize. In this case, it was necessary to appreciate that there was a presumptive acceptance that there had been lost development value, and the quantum and nature of the loss were to be determined on the assessment. Only by the High Court decision on the assessment was it made clear that the acquisition took effect on 3 February 2007. Therefore, what the respondent may have recovered as compensation for the compulsory acquisition of her land was confined to its value at the date of the acquisition.”

Barrow said that the court found several issues with the appeal, including the Minister of Natural Resources’ failure to appoint a board of assessment for the land.  Barrow then broke down the structure of Gabourel’s compensation.

Denys Barrow, Justice of the CCJ: “Mr. Justice Anderson highlighted that the establishment of a board of assessment in conjunction with the work of the authorized officer is integral to the process of the compulsory acquisition of land. An unpaid landowner whose land has been acquired in circumstances such as the present case is not really entitled to seek damages. That remedy may be appropriate where the constitutional and legislative procedures for the acquisition have not been followed. What the landowner in the position of the respondent is entitled to is to have the law followed by the establishment of the assessment board. Damages is not the same as finding the value of the land and the process for arriving at damages for breach of a constitutional right is separate and distinct from the process of arriving at the value of land compulsorily acquired. As a rule, therefore, the appropriate remedy for a constitutional action for damages for compulsorily acquired land should be mandamus to the Minister to appoint a board of assessment. For the reasons given above, the appeal was dismissed. The decision of the Court of Appeal to order a remission to the High Court of the assessment of compensation was set aside and the respondent was awarded compensation in the sum of $4,545,325 with interest from 3 February 2007 at a rate of 6% per annum until the date of this judgment and thereafter at the statutory judgment rate of 6% per annum.”

We reached out to Attorney Anthony Sylvestre for comment but he says he’ll get back to us./

Related post

Senate Debates Key Bills, Ratifies Latin American Space Convention

Senate Debates Key Bills, Ratifies Latin American Space Convention

The Senate met today at the National Assembly in Belmopan to debate several bills and wrapped up just after 5:20 this…
State of Emergency Extended in Belize and Cayo Districts

State of Emergency Extended in Belize and Cayo Districts

Another resolution passed was the extension of the government’s State of Emergency in the Belize and Cayo Districts. The SOE was…
Senate Approves $50M IDB Loan for Urban Development and Healthcare

Senate Approves $50M IDB Loan for Urban Development and…

The Senate then moved on to a loan motion for almost 50 million Belize dollars from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *