Class action suit filed against acting police chief
An application for an injunction against the Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite was filed in the High Court today on behalf of claimant Bernard McDonald Chase and other members of the sports shooting fraternity in Barbados.
The class action suit, which is accompanied by an affidavit from president of the largest association of licensed firearm holders and competitive shooters, Antonio “Boo” Rudder, is seeking an urgent injunction to restrain the island’s top cop from refusing to renew and/or revoke any firearm licences under section 15 of the Firearms Act, CAP 179.
The case arises out of the top cop’s decision to revoke two firearm licences belonging to the claimant, who contends that the decision was arbitrary.
Chase has also charged that Griffith misdirected himself in the application of his discretion in deciding not to renew or to revoke the licences.
“The result was that the claimant and all other licensed firearm holders, who hold licences bearing the stamp “For Use of Target Shooting Only”, and whose licences have expired, are not being permitted to obey the existing laws and the requirements of the Firearms Act of Barbados by keeping their licences current,” the claimant alleges.
“The effect of the arbitrary decision of the First Defendant [Acting Police Commissioner] will be to create a class of unlicensed firearms in Barbados and to place otherwise law abiding firearms holders in breach of the Laws of Barbados and liable to arrest and prosecution,” read the certificate of urgency, which formed part of a series of documents filed today by Chase’s attorney-at-law Wilfred Abrahams.
The claim is based on six grounds:
It is argued that pursuant to Section 14 of the Firearms Act Cap. 179 of the laws of Barbados, the First Defendant has a statutory duty to give notice in writing to holders of firearms licences prior to varying the conditions on which the said firearms licences are held.
Furthermore, the Acting Commissioner of Police, in refusing to renew and in revoking licences, “failed and or refused to follow the legislated procedure as outlined in Section 15 of the Act and in so doing acted unlawfully”.
The claimant further charges that the top cop failed and/or omitted and/or refused to give the said notice in writing prior to unilaterally deciding not to renew and/or revoke the licences of the claimant endorsed with the words “FOR USE OF TARGETING SHOOTING ONLY”.
The sports shooter also contends that in deciding not to renew and/or revoke the licences of the claimant, the top cop improperly exercised his discretion and applied criteria other than those stated in section 15 of the Firearms Act of Barbados.
Based on the decision of the police chief to rely on criteria other than what is in the Firearms Act, it is also argued that he breached the terms of that Act and as such renders his decision in this regard null.
Chase is also requesting that the court make 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. The claimant is asking for costs and such or further relief the court may deem fit.