by Leon Oscar Taylor
Grenada’s judiciary can be characterised by the saying “justice delayed is justice denied” the legal maxim meaning if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all.
A prime example of the above and the damage that results is the case of La Source Resort. The latter was a major local investment which the Government of Grenada deemed to be so important to the economy in 1991 that it used Lome V funds to become a shareholder and to make the investment possible.
La Source opened in 1993 and soon became a profitable investment and the island’s leading resort and a major contributor to the island’s economy until hurricane Ivan forced its closure in September 2004.
The resort was insured by 3 insurers under the same policy. Two of the three insurers settled La Source’s hurricane Ivan claim, the third refused, forcing La Source to seek recovery by filing a claim in the Supreme Court in September 2005. To date, more than 12 years later, this litigation remains unheard waiting a court date
Recently a court date was set for 13 November 2017, but the judge was not present; then 20 November 2017 at which time the sitting judge declined to hear the matter, and recently 4 June 2018 but this date has been aborted because of the lack of a judge to hear it. Now the courts have been abandoned due to a facility that has been deemed unhealthy.
Without access to a court hearing which would have permitted recovery of its claim against the recalcitrant insurer and greatly reduced the resort’s debt, La Source’s debt became unsustainable and the resort succumbed to foreclosure by the Bank of Nova Scotia in November 2012.
As a result, the investors have lost their investment and can only expect consideration for their loss if and when the resort’s claim is heard in court. But when will that be, given the present state of the judiciary and the courts?
Two of the original majority investors are already deceased and the remaining 3 are in their 80s. Will this case become one of those which is never heard because the plaintiffs have expired?
The case of La Source represents a major tragedy — a victim of the state of the local judiciary — a tragedy in that a major local profitable tax-paying investment which was growing and employing 240 Grenadians, was lost. 78% of the investment in La Source was home grown and included the Government of Grenada.
There are many others who have suffered and continue to suffer the consequences of “justice delayed is justice denied” whose lives have been brought to a standstill while they wait in vain.
Grenada will never achieve its potential as long as the existing unsatisfactory state of the judiciary/court system prevails.