Barbadian contractor Horace Drakes has labelled the country’s legal system a farce after trying to get a housing matter resolved in the law court for over ten years.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Drakes, who lives in Canada, revealed that after 15 court appearances, three lawyers and constant adjournments, he had yet to get a couple who took possession of a house without his approval off the property.
“My wife Sandra and I have been coming to Barbados for the past 11 years trying to resolve the court case and all that is happening is that it is being cancelled on the date of arrival. We have difficulties in trying to find a resolution in a housing matter which is clearly identified by contracts and we cannot by pursuit of the court system have it finalized in a decision to evict persons from our house,” a frustrated Drakes said.
With documents in hand, the couple elaborated on their struggle to repossess the 900 square foot, two bedroom, one bathroom house at Goodlands Gardens, Christ Church.
In what appeared to be a complicated deal, the Drakes family has ended up footing a mortgage for a house they had not planned for.
He explained that after a couple living in England contracted him to build a house for them, they discovered that they did not qualify for a mortgage here.
With a downpayment of about $104,000, Drakes put up his house as collateral and took a loan to build the dwelling for the couple, with strict conditions that they would make the monthly payments of approximately $1,400 to the bank, plus insurance to cover the building and their lives.
However, after just two payments the couple stopped, leaving the Drakes family stuck with a mortgage and no house, because his former clients have moved in and have refused to budge.
Eleven years later, and several meeting with attorneys representing the two sides, and “a roller coaster ride in the court”, Drakes said he was now over $700, 000 out of pocket for a house which costs $275, 000.
“We have been going back and forth from Canada and we have had a judge who literally sits and we cannot seem to get advancement or a resolution to the case . . . This year we have come to Barbados three times, and on this occasion and the previous occasions, the court hearing was adjourned, we were not contacted or notified. [We only found out] when we turned up with our lawyer at the court to read a notice saying that the judge is not taking cases between December 1st to 4th,” he told Barbados TODAY.
He said he had followed the letter of the law and had even sought the assistance of the Barbados representative to Canada who, after reviewing their plight, contacted Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson but “the CJ has not acknowledged in any way that he has received the document”.
“Is this the typical situation for poor Barbadians who have ventured to foreign territory to make better of themselves and reinvest into Barbados to meet such hurdles?” Drakes questioned.
“My frustration is the legal system. We have applied ourselves, we followed the law and our legal advisors and we cannot seem to make progress and it is sitting somewhere between our attorney and the court because the judge is never there. We cannot seem to get a continuance of hearing,”
Drakes has appealed to the authorities, including Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to intervene, saying the situation did not bode well for the island.
“Barbados continues to ask for foreign investment to be here. This is something that they need to fix. I personally cannot continue to encourage any of my partners or associates to invest in Barbados if this small [issue] cannot be resolved and the person who has the money is being taken to the cleaners.
“I would like to have back my house. I would like to be refunded all the expenses that we have incurred in travelling back and forth which is out of our control [and] which is as a result of the procrastination of the legal system. We want them evicted immediately.”