The Crown has signaled its intention to fight a lawsuit brought by at least one litigant against the Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith over a new policy on gun licences for sport shooters.
News of the Crown’s response was shared with Barbados TODAY by sources close to the case which came up for hearing in the High Court before Madame Justice Jacqueline Cornelius this morning.
Following a review, restrictions and conditions were attached to some gun licences issued for sporting purposes. Some sport shooters have also had their licences revoked or not renewed.
Sport shooter Garth Patterson is asking for a judicial review of Griffith’s decision.
It is understood that while the Crown – represented by attorney-at-law Donna Brathwaite – expressed its intention to resist the Patterson suit, it had not yet filed the relevant papers to that effect.
The hearing was adjourned until April 15. Asked to comment on the adjournment, Patterson would only report disappointment.
In his claim, the applicant is contending that the police chief overreached his powers by taking it on himself to impose conditions and restrictions when the Firearms Act Cap 179 does not give him such powers.
Patterson, who was represented by Bartlett Morgan, is arguing that the discretion granted to the top cop under the Act is one to either grant, or to refuse to grant a firearm licence.
”Even if the Commissioner has the power to impose conditions on a firearm licence, which is denied, the fact is that no such restriction as to either use or amount of ammunition had previously been imposed in respect of the firearm licences issued to the applicant [Patterson] over the course of 12 years since the applicant’s application,” the applicant’s court document said.
“Consequently, the proposed change is in breach of the applicant’s legitimate expectation that no such restrictions would be imposed.”
Patterson is insisting that the acting commissioner also decided to refuse to renew the licence of sport shooters and or revoke those licences already issued, because they had formally objected to his initial action to impose restrictions and conditions.
”For all the reasons advanced above, the applicant says that the decision of the commissioner to impose restrictions as to the use of the applicant’s firearm and to deny the applicant the right to possess ammunition, was ultra vires, unlawful and/or unreasonable and amounted to an abuse of power, and is null and void. The applicant accordingly prays that this Honourable Court will so declare and grant the other, or further reliefs prayed for,” Patterson concluded in his suit.
Meanwhile, the parties to a separate, but related class action suit against the commissioner, continue to await a date from the court for their hearing to start. Bernard Chase is spearheading that action on behalf of various clubs, including the Barbados Rifle and Pistol Federation Inc., the Barbados Shooting Council and the Barbados Rifle and Pistol Association.
It is seeking an injunction restraining the police chief from further pursuing his recent decision until the substantive matter is determined by the court.