Monday, December 20, 2010

Justice K. Neville Adderley Has Spoken

Justice Adderley Has Spoken
The Bahama Journal Editorial

A number of citizens decided that they would take the Minister of Works to court; they did and today we know that rest of the story – these citizens won.

As one citizen notes of the matter to which we refer: "This case is historic, (it) has proven that the small man can stand up and fight City Hall. There is no reason to be scared.

This citizen is Arnold Heastie, owner of Heastie's Service Station on Baillou Road.

Another citizen, Etheric Bowe, the owner of Advanced Technical Enterprises Ltd, said the ruling gave him faith in the justice system.

In addition, there is also Rupert Roberts, himself another leading citizen who also exulted in the decision to which we shall presently refer.

And for sure, we can also advise that, you should –at least for now- forget that old saw which suggests that, while sticks and stones might break your bones, words can never harm you.

While this might be advice that is good enough for na├»ve children, the fact remains that, in the very real world that we inhabit, words – particularly those uttered by magistrates, Supreme Court Justices and others such – can and do resonate.

Here we can and will illustrate the point we make by noting some of those poignant words as they were uttered this past weekend by one Supreme Court Justice, K. Neville Adderley.

In a matter that came to his attention, we note some of what this esteemed justice had to says as he expatiated on the bone that had been the nub of contention between the Minister of Works and some of this nation’s leading citizens; concluding [as he did] on this salutary note: "I find that once the Minister (of Works) had embarked on the consultative process by carrying out the road works in the affected area without proper consultation, he thereby did not follow the requirements of the law…”

This broadside was followed by another volley of words that struck their mark. Here Justice Adderley concluded on this note: “…I also find that the road works in substance constitute a public nuisance which has directly contributed to losses, including goodwill, to the businesses of the applicants…"

This is surely some powerful stuff.

And as if this was not enough for the Minister of Works, the learned justice reverted to that question concerning damages.

Here Justice Adderley opined that, "The damages shall relate to their businesses only and to loss cause by the road works. The works on the Baillou Hill Road and Market Street corridors are continuing and there may be time for the minister to mitigate his damages by engaging in proper consultation with the applicants to the extent, if any, is still possible…"

Yet again, we are witness to the power inherent in words when they are words that can and will make a difference as regards the rights of the citizen versus the power of the state.

Such is the stuff of which joyous celebration is both birthed and fashioned; and so it came to be that, Justice Adderley’s ruling was met with jubilation from the Coconut Grove Business League.

But for sure, there is more to this than that it surely does provides a perfect pretext for celebration and jubilation.

Here the truth inherent in the matter at hand has to do with lessons that must be learned. In this regard, then, the current administration, its Official Opposition and [perhaps] most of those men and women who would aspire to leadership in our land must – if for the sake of their own sanity – should take close note of the fact that, there are three branches of government.

They would also be well advised to know and appreciate the importance of the fact that, each branch has its own unique role to play in keeping things on an even keel; and that, when the chips are down, the executive branch of government can and should be over-ruled.

This is precisely what now stands revealed on the morrow of a landmark decision made by Supreme Court Justice K. Neville Adderley, who opined that, the Minister of Works "did not follow the requirements of the law when he effected road works along Baillou Hill Road and Market Street.”

This he said as he ruled in favour of the Coconut Grove Business League yesterday.

We can also note that, Justice K. Neville Adderley also awarded the group unspecified damages for loss of business due to the ongoing road works - damages that will be assessed by the court at a later date if the parties involved cannot come to an agreed amount.

Evidently jubilant, The Coconut Grove Business League –as reported – described Justice Adderley’s ruling as an historic one.

It surely is.

And so, today we give thanks for the fact that, we still live in a land where the Rule of Law yet prevails.

December 20, 2010

The Bahama Journal Editorial