Acting Police Commissioner Tyrone Griffith has lost round one of a class action suit brought against him by sport shooter Bernard Chase.
On Wednesday, High Court Judge William Chandler granted an injunction against the police chief, restraining him from refusing to renew or revoke any firearm licence issued by him for sporting purposes. The order also restrains the island’s top cop from taking similar action with respect to licences endorsed with the words “For Use of Target Shooting Only”.
The court has directed that the top cop or his agents can only refuse or revoke such licences in accordance with the conditions set out in Section 15 of the Firearms Act, Cap 179. The injunction remains in place until the hearing of the substantive case and determination of the claim or until further order of the court.
The order reads: “The first defendant [commissioner] be and is hereby restrained whether by himself, his agents or servants or otherwise howsoever from refusing to renew or revoking any firearm licence that was issued by the first defendant for sporting purposes or those endorsed with the words “For Use of Target Shooting Only”, otherwise than upon the grounds and in accordance with the conditions as set out in Section 15 of the Firearms Act Cap 179 of the Laws of Barbados until the hearing [of the substantive case] and determination of the claim herein or until further order.”
Justice Chandler has also ruled that the issue of costs in the matter would be adjourned for May 5.
The order means that the court has made a determination regarding three of the five claims set out by the applicant on his behalf and that of all sport shooters in Barbados. The other two which form the substantive case, will be heard at a date yet to be set.
In this regard, the sport shooters want to the court to made a declaration that the unilateral decision of the first defendant not to renew and/or revoke the licences of the claimant endorsed with the words “For Use of Target Shooting Only” is contrary to law and contravenes the principles of natural justice and/or constitutes an irregular exercise of his discretion.
They also want the court to make a declaration that pursuant to Section 15 of the Firearms Act Cap. 179 of the Laws of Barbados, the commissioner has a statutory duty to give written notice prior to revoking and/or refusing to renew the firearm licences of the claimant [Bernard Chase].
That declaration must also record that the commissioner failed and/or omitted and/or refused to give the claimant adequate notice of his decision not to renew and/or revoke the licences of the claimant endorsed with the words “For Use of Target Shooting Only”.
Attorneys Wilfred Abrahams, Sukeena Maynard and Bryan Weekes represented the applicant. Jared Richards appeared for the police commissioner and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, who is the second defendant.