Commissioner of Lands v Clifford Armstrong and Others

 
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[2012] JMSC Civ 115

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE OF JAMAICA

Coram:

Evan Brown J (Presiding)

Norma Breakenridge — Assessor

Kenneth Allison — Assessor

CLAIM NO. 2010 HCV 05809

In The Matter of Awards of Compensation made by the Commissioner of Lands under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act

and

In The Matter of reference to the Court by the Commissioner of Lands under Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act

and

In The Matter of all that Parcel of Land and premises being part of Charlemont in the parish of Saint Catherine and being part of the land comprised in Certificate of Title registered at Volume 1359 Folio 871 of the Register Book of Titles in the Name of the Minister of Housing

Between
The Commissioner of Lands Clifford Armstrong
Claimant
and
Clifford Armstrong
1st Defendant

and

Raymond Ellis (In the Estate of Walford Ellis, deceased)
2nd Defendant

and

Delbert Francis
3rd Defendant

and

Headley Graham
4th Defendant

and

Fitzroy Green
5th Defendant

and

David Harrison
6th Defendant

and

Donald James
7th Defendant

and

Julet Murphy
8th Defendant

and

Loxley Murphy
9th Defendant

and

Lenford Parker
10th Defendant

and

Authur Smith (In the Estate of Winchester Smith, deceased)
11th Defendant

and

Winston Taffe
12th Defendant

and

Ronald watkiss
13th Defendant

and

Ralph Weir
14th Defendant

COMPULSORY LAND ACQUISITION — COMPENSATION AWARDS — PAYMENT OF INTEREST — LAND VALUATION — DAMAGES FOR ACTUAL EARNINGS — REFERENCE BY THE COMMISSIONER OF LANDS — LAND ACQUISITION ACT

Evan Brown J
1

The Government of Jamaica sought to acquire land in the parish of St. Catherine for a public purpose namely, the construction of Highway 2000 Phase 1B. In consequence of that, the Commissioner of Lands entered into negotiations with the relevant persons with a view to acquiring the lots by private treaty. Those negotiations came to naught. Following the failure of that process, the Commissioner of Lands made awards of compensation. Those awards of compensation were rejected. Subsequent to their refusal to accept the compensation awarded, the defendants applied to the Commissioner of Lands to refer the matter to this court for its determination. This is therefore a reference by the Commissioner of Lands under section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act, byFixed Date Claim Form filed on the 22 nd November, 2010. The court therefore sat with two assessors, appointed under section 20 of the said Act.

2

At the first hearing on the 6 th May, 2011, the 14 th defendant, Ralph Weir, accepted the award made by the Commissioner of Lands before Brooks J (as he then was). On the 18 th May, 2011, the matter was once again before Brooks J by way of Notice of Application for Court Orders. Brooks J made two orders. First, one requiring the Commissioner of Lands to pay out to thirteen of the named defendants the sums previously awarded to them by the Commissioner of Lands. That is, all the defendants excepting Ralph Weir. That payment was ordered to be made with interest at 5% per annum from the 1 st August, 2009 to the date of payment. Secondly, it was ordered that the court should determine the difference between the amounts awarded by the Commissioner of Lands and that being claimed by the respective applicants.

3

The events leading to this reference are amply captured by the affidavit of the Commissioner of Lands. In her affidavit she said that the Ministry of Housing is the registered owner of land being part of CHARLEMONT in the parish of SAINT CATHERINE and being all of the land comprised in Certificate of Title registered at Volume 1359 Folio 871 of the Register Book of Titles. A copy of the duplicate certificate of title registered at Volume 1359 Folio 871 of the Register Book of Titles was exhibited.

4

The Ministry of Housing was facilitating the transfers of lots comprising the said land and had an obligation to provide Certificates of Titles to allottees (the defendants herein), who took steps to purchase the lots in or about the 1940's on special terms and conditions pursuant to a land settlement project undertaken by the Government of Jamaica at that time.

5

The defendants are some of the various allottees. Each defendant occupied various lots on the land, as indicated below:

• Clifford Armstrong -

Lot 38

• Raymond Ellis (in the Estate of Walford Ellis) -

Lot 9

• Delbert Francis -

Lot 12

• Headley Graham -

Lot 112

• Fitzroy Green -

Lot 7

• David Harrison -

Lot 108

• Donald James -

Lot 8

• Julet Murphy -

Lot 114

• Loxley Murphy -

Lot 111

• Lenford Parker -

Lot 22

• Authur Smith (in the Estate of Winchester Smith) -

Lot 10

• Winston Taffe -

Lot 37

• Ronald Watkiss -

Lot 3

• Ralph Weir -

Lot 115

NOTICE ISSUED PURSUANT TO SECTION 3(1) OF THE LAND ACQUISITION ACT
6

By way of Notification dated the 22 nd day of August 2007 issued pursuant to section 3(1) of the Land Acquisition Act and published in the Jamaica Gazette on the 29 th day of August 2007, the Minister of Agriculture (‘The Minister’) gave notice that all that parcel of land located at Charlemont in the parish of Saint Catherine, being the land comprised in Certificate of Title registered at Volume 1359 Folio 871 of the Register Book of Titles was likely to be needed for a public purpose, namely, for the construction of Highway 2000 Phase 1 B. A copy of the Jamaica Gazette dated the 29 th day of August 2007 was exhibited.

DECLARATION PURSUANT TO SECTION 5(1) OF THE LAND ACQUISITION ACT
7

On the 22 nd day of August 2007, a Declaration was made by the Minister pursuant to section 5(1) of the Land Acquisition Act that all that parcel of land located at Charlemont in the parish of Saint Catherine being the land comprised in Certificate of Title registered at Volume 1359 Folio 871 of the Register Book of Titles was needed for a public purpose. This declaration was published in the Jamaica Gazette on 29 th August 2007.

8

The Commissioner of Lands was directed by the Minister, pursuant to section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, to take proceedings for the acquisition of the lots comprising the land. The Commissioner of Lands then took the necessary steps to cause the various lots of land to be valued and to enter into negotiations with the defendants with a view to acquiring the lots by way of private treaty. These negotiations were unfruitful.

NOTICES ISSUED PURSUANT TO SECTION 9 OF THE LAND ACQUISITION ACT
9

There having been no agreement by private treaty for the purchase of the lots the Commissioner of Lands, on the 29 th day of June 2009, published separate Notices pursuant to section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act indicating the intention of the Government of Jamaica to acquire the said lots on the land. Each Notice bore the sole name of each of the defendant and invited claims for compensation from persons with an interest in the said land. The Notices also invited such persons to appear at an Enquiry personally or by agent before the Commissioner of Lands on the 22 nd day of July 2009 to state the nature of their interest in the land, as well as the amount and particulars of their claim to compensation. Copies of the Notices dated 29 th June 2009 to each defendant were exhibited.

NOTICES ISSUED PURSUANT TO SECTION 15 OF THE LAND ACQUISITION ACT
10

By way of Notices issued pursuant to section 15 of the Land Acquisition Act, the Commissioner of Lands was directed by the Honourable Orrett Bruce Golding, Prime Minister, to take urgent possession of the lots on the land. The Notices were issued in the sole names of each of the defendants. Copies of these Notices were also exhibited.

ENQUIRIES HELD PURSUANT TO SECTION 11 OF THE LAND ACQUISITION ACT
11

On the 22 nd day of July 2009, the Commissioner of Lands held Enquiries in accordance with the provisions of section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act for each of the lots for each defendant. Mr. Robert Pickersgill, Attorney-at-Law represented all the defendants, except the 12 th defendant, Mr. Winston Taffe, who did not attend the Enquiry. In addition, Mrs. Lois Edwards-Bourne, Director of Corporate Legal Services at the National Land Agency (‘NLA’); Ms. Brandie Anderson, Legal Officer at NLA; Mr. Phillip Myers,...

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