Firearm licence holders challenging a recent decision of Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin have scored a preliminary victory.
When the matter came up for hearing in the No. 12 Supreme Court before Justice Jacqueline Cornelius as the case of Robert Ross and Gladstone Carrington versus the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General, Ross was granted an order appointing him a representative party in the proceedings.
Attorney-at-law Wilfred Abrahams, who is representing Ross and Carrington, explained to Barbados TODAY that this effectively made the matter a class action suit, adding that “the implications of this turn in the proceedings is that the first defendant, the commissioner of police, is now unable to take any punitive action against all holders of firearm licences in respect of multi-calibre firearms, pending the determination of the substantive case”.
In addition, he noted, any final ruling given by the court in respect of the case will be binding on all holders of licences in respect of multi-calibre firearms – which are guns with the capacity to accommodate barrels that hold different size bullets.
Last December 31, Ross and Carrington filed a suit against the commissioner of police “in respect of his failure and/or omission and/or refusal to give notice in writing of his purported variation of the conditions of the claimants firearms licences, to wit that effective in or around December 2012, holders of firearms licences in respect of firearms with more than one barrel must pay separate and distinct renewal fees [with] each and every barrel of the said firearm”, or $200 per barrel.
These multi-calibre firearms are commonly used in competitive shooting. The renewal fees due from holders of such weapons have in some cases increased by as much as 300 per cent, owners have complained.
The claimants are also charging that the decision of the commissioner about to a breach of statutory duty and power under the Firearms’ Act, and that he is “acting contrary to or in excess of his statutory powers under the said act”, Abrahams added.
The commissioner and Attorney General have been ordered to file a defence to the claim by January 29, 2013. The hearing of claim is being fast-tracked in an attempt to have it adjudicated as a matter of urgency, the attorney pointed out.
Ross and Carrington are being represented by Abrahams, in association with Tamesha Watkins and Duana Peterson, while Marcia Thompson-Cumberbatch of the Solicitor General’s Chambers is representing the commissioner and Attorney General.