Bahamas Government Illegally Acquired Land For Albany Project
In a major victory for eight property owners, Supreme Court Justice Cheryl Albury ruled yesterday that the Government of The Bahamas illegally acquired land in southwestern New Providence to facilitate the Albany project.
The individual landowners sued the government last year after it acquired their properties for the luxury tourist development.
The landowners had sought a declaration that the use of the Acquisition of Land Act as a means of forcibly taking the privately-owned land of Bahamian citizens for the sole purpose of benefiting a private as opposed to a government entity constitutes a fraud on the Act, is unconstitutional and is otherwise unlawful and that all acts done pursuant thereto are void.
Justice Albury ruled that the compulsory acquisition of the landowners' property by the government without "prompt and adequate compensation" is contrary to the provision of the Act and in breach of Article 27 of the Constitution.
She granted a declaration that they are entitled to immediate payment of their land at fair market value "in addition to their entitlement to the statutory uplifts provided for under the Act as compensation for [their] land being compulsorily acquired and possessed by the [government] without adequate prior or any compensation."
She ordered that the government immediately pay this compensatory sum "as the court may assess as due from the defendant in the circumstances."
Additionally, Justice Albury made a declaration that in default of this immediate payment "of adequate compensation as may be determined by the court in accordance with the provisions of the act" the landowners are entitled to immediate possession of their respective properties.