Attorney-at-law David Comissiong is suggesting that a settlement could be near in the lawsuit that has held up the US$100 million Hilton Centric Resort on Bay Street, The City.
Comissiong told a news conference today the new Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration was hinting that it was ready to withdraw an appeal against a High Court decision confirming his right to challenge the decision to grant permission for construction of the property without first demanding an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
“I have received hints that the BLP administration is not backward and that it will not be continuing with the appeal against the right of a citizen to challenge the decision on a matter as nationally important as this,” the social activist told journalists gathered for the briefing at which he defended his decision to accept a diplomatic post from the Mia Mottley-led Government.
“I have also received hints that the Barbados Labour Party administration may very well concede that a project of this nature required the holding of an environmental impact assessment,” he added, without going into details.
Comissiong, who was recently appointed as Ambassador to CARICOM, also lashed out as those who asked why a settlement could not have been reached with the then Freundel Stuart administration, suggesting that those questioning his motives were immature.
“Those persons who say that need to grow up and be mature. I wrote to Stuart in August of 2016 offering my advice as an experienced attorney. I didn’t want to go to court,” Comissiong said, explaining that it was costly for him to file the Hyatt case.
Back in March 2017, Comissiong filed for judicial review of the permission granted to developer Mark Maloney by the then Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister responsible for Town Planning, for the construction of the hotel.
While listing several grounds for his action, Comissiong was particularly concerned that Stuart had failed to demand an EIA and to include town hall meetings with those who reside in the vicinity of the proposed construction.
Stuart responded by filing a counterclaim, arguing that Comissiong, as an ordinary citizen, did not have the right to bring a judicial review application.
Justice Sonia Richards ruled last December that Comissiong did have the right to mount the legal challenge, a decision which was immediately appealed by Stuart’s legal team.
Comissiong said in addition to its apparent willingness to settle the Hyatt case, he hoped the new administration would also demonstrate a willingness to settle the Campus Trendz and Arch Cot lawsuits, in which he represents the families of the victims of both tragedies.
However, the social activist explained that on the off chance that his reading of Government’s position was wrong, he was prepared to pass over these matters to another attorney.
“I have not yet sat down with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jerome Walcott, to be briefed on the rights and responsibilities of the ambassador to CARICOM position. I suspect however, that as an ambassador of the country I would not be permitted to engage in litigation, and particularly in litigation against the same Government that I am serving as an ambassador. I would therefore repose these matters in the hands of my colleagues,” Comissiong stressed.