Go back to the negotiating table and try one more time to work things out.
This was the advice of Justice Rajendra Narine, as he deferred judgment today in the most recent attempt by Asha Mrs Ram Mirchandani to get an extension on Government’s compulsory acquisition of her Liquidation Centre store, before a panel of Supreme Court justices to be held next Tuesday.
This morning, Mirchandani, through her attorney-at-law Ezra Alleyne, QC, sought to have an overturn of a High Court decision not to grant her the stay of execution on the compulsory acquisition order, giving the Ministry of Housing the green light to take control of the Bay Street premises last month.
Narine noted that justice in this matter would be better served by a panel, but before adjourning the matter, he tried to impress upon both parties to use the one-week adjournment to talk things over in hope of coming up with an amicable solution. He pointed out that the plaintiff was asking for a stay of execution of the possession order until January 2, 2020, which would give the company enough time to sell the remaining goods during the Christmas season. He also suggested that development on the project, for which the property is being acquired, is unlikely to take place during the Christmas season and therefore both parties can benefit from an out-of-court agreement.
“Having regard to the nature of the matter, I am going to put it before a full panel so that the matter could be dealt with and the earliest that can happen is next Tuesday. I don’t want to say too much because the matter is going to come up next week, but it seems to me that a lot can be gained from both sides if you can talk. Both sides can derive certain advantages and benefits by trying to work out an amicable solution to what has arisen here,” said Narine, noting that such a move would save time and cost to both parties.
He added, “The appellant has come before the court seeking what I see as a limited stay of execution up to January 2, 2020, to permit her to dispose of the goods at the warehouse… It seems to me that a solution could be worked out and if the appellant is willing to sell out the goods, then it means that it would be less compensation which would be due to her. So, if one weighs it in the balance then there are advantages to both sides. So, I am hoping that good sense would prevail and that you would seek a solution.”
However, while Alleyne made it clear that his client was willing to return to the negotiating table, legal counsel for the Chief Town Planner, Alrick Scott Q.C., told the court that his client has been in negotiations with the plaintiff since last Christmas and no headway had been made.
“Those were not my instructions… There have been discussions since Christmas last year regarding this matter and we are here one year after… The project has already been delayed,” said Scott.
He further revealed that as of yesterday, the Ministry of Health had condemned the building and therefore he was unsure whether the plaintiff’s request could even be considered. In response, Narine requested that Scott submit the evidence of the Ministry of Health’s findings regarding the building by Thursday.
Following the adjournment, Mirchandani had little to say to members of the media waiting on the step of the Supreme Court, noting only that “the judge said all that needed to be said”.
“Things will work out once you have faith and trust in God,” she added.