Web Shop Industry Warns Government
Chief Justice Michael Barnett lifted the injunction and ruled against the web shop industry saying that no credible evidence had been produced to show that the web shops would suffer irreparable financial damage without the injunction in place.
The Chief Justice said that the public could “suffer irreparable harm” if the web shops were allowed “to continue and profit from illegal activity”. With that he stated he would not grant the continuation of the injunction – an injunction which would disallow the Royal Bahamas Police Force from closing down or otherwise interfering with web shop activities.
Justice Barnett said the police can only intervene if there are breaches of the Lotteries and Gaming Act – they can not shut down the web shop industry.
“Laws are presumed to be valid and must be obeyed unless and until they have been adjudicated as being invalid. The police must be allowed to enforce the law unless and until the law has been declared to be invalid.”
Wayne Munroe, an attorney for several web shop operators warned the Government, saying if they act on the ruling gaming operators will take further legal action.
Mr Munroe, who represents Island Game, Island Luck, FML, Asue Draw, Whattfall and Chances, is appealing the ruling. He said if the government loses it will be liable to pay damages to his clients.
Whether the web shop industry’s activities constituted a criminal offence was not an issue that the Chief Justice felt should be determined in the civil proceedings before him. He agreed that it was a serious issue regarding the web shop industry’s claim that it had a ‘legitimate expectation’ that its activities would be licensed and regulated, based on talks with the Government.
“If successful, the courts may well grant relief which may require the executive to grant the requisite licences. However, I am far from persuaded that the balance of convenience lies in restraining the police from enforcing the law whilst the claim based upon legitimate expectation is being adjudicated,” Sir Michael ruled.
The web shops involved in the court action were FML, Asue Draw, Island Luck, WhatFall, Chances Internet Services, Percy’s Web Cafe and Paradise Games.
Perry Christie declined to comment.law, web shops