Maloney gets his court wish
The stay which attorneys appearing on behalf of the Mark Maloney-led Rock Hard Cement asked for two weeks ago, has been granted.
Late last month, attorney-at-law Vincent Watson had made the application requesting that no further action be taken against his company until its appeal, which is currently before the High Court, is determined.
And today, when the matter came up again for hearing in the District ‘A’ Magistrates Court, Magistrate Douglas Frederick acceded to the company’s wish for a delay in hearing the Lower Court matter, which was brought against it by the Town & Country Planning Department.
The Maloney-led company is accused of breaching a stop notice issued to it, instructing that no further development occurs at Lots 3 and 7 on the Flour Mill Site, Spring Garden, St Michael.
The Government department, which falls under the command of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and which is led by Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins further accuses the company of carrying out, causing or giving permission for construction work and operations to be carried out on the properties between September and May this year, while they were the occupiers, thereby contravening Section 40 B (1) of the Town and Country Planning Act, Chapter 240.
On the last occasion, the prosecution had also taken exception to Maloney’s absence from court.
However, that did not seem to matter today as the matter proceeded in his absence with Crown Counsel with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Oliver Thomas agreeing with Watson’s previous submissions while pointing out that his position had been endorsed by the DPP Charles Leacock, QC.
Magistrate Frederick also agreed, stating that the “Act is clear” and since the arguments to be made before him would be duplicated in the High Court, the superior court “would be better able to deal with this issue”.
At the beginning of the matter on June 24, both Frederick and Thomas had queried whether Justin Harrison, an employee of the company, could rightfully act on the company’s behalf, with the Crown Counsel arguing strongly that in order for Harrison to legally represent Hard Rock Cement, “he has to bring instruments to satisfy the court and to prove that he [Harrison] has locus standi”.
However, pointing toward the dock, Watson had said there were persons who seemed intent on seeing the embattled Maloney “in there”, but the attorney had insisted that he did not have to be there. The Hard Rock lawyer stressed that it was the company and not Maloney who stood accused; therefore anyone deemed by the company to be its representative should be able to carry out that function.
Frederick was equally combative as he had suggested to Watson that the Corporate Secretary was the legal representative of any company and should be the one appearing on the company’s behalf.
He had also pointed out that at the end of the day if there was liability, it would crystalize “on a particular person” and that being the case, the court had to ensure that “the correct person was before the court”.
In response, Watson had insisted that since the complaint was against a company all that had to be proven was that Rock Hard Cement was “legitimately operating in Barbados”. He had further pointed out to the court that even though the Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins was the informant named in the case, “he is not here” in person, but had someone representing him.
Today, those arguments simply dissipated as Frederick thanked Thomas for his maturity and Watson for his “well thought-out submissions”.
In an earlier interview with Barbados TODAY in which he claimed he was being severely victimized, Maloney had revealed that his case in the High Court would not be heard before September.
With today’s stay the Town Planner is blocked from taking any further action against Maloney’s Flour Mill cement enterprise after the businessman recently suffered the indignity of having the Town Planning Department tear down a chattel house structure which he had erected at Lears, St Michael as part of a roundabout beautification project.
A bitter public tussle between him and the Chief Town Planner has also seen Cummins refusing to issue any more permits for his housing project at Coverley, prompting calls by the businessman for the Chief Town Planner to demit office.
However, the Prime Minister, who has the ultimate say on Cummins’ job, has so far been standing firmly in his corner, even though at least one member of his Cabinet – Donville Inniss – has been publicly critical of Cummins’ office.