Miner seeks $50M in damages from Govt for trespassing

An East Coast Demerara (ECD) miner has taken the Government to court for constructing the Mahdia Magistrate’s Court on his land. The miner had previously threatened to take legal action if the construction was not halted but the contractors continued.

Attorney General Basil Williams

The defendants in the case are listed as Attorney General Basil Williams; the Registrar of the Supreme Court, and Pierre Walcott; along with Maria Ann Walcott of M&P Investments at Lot 1165 Block 1, Eccles, East Bank Demerara.
Royston Stuart of Lot 70 Ann’s Grove Housing Scheme, ECD, in his statement of claim filed in the High Court said he is the holder of Claim Licence, dated September 2, 2016, issued under the authority of the Mining Act 1989 and the mining regulations by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in respect to a certain tract of State land in Mining District Number Two.
Despite that Claim Licence being valid and subsisting, Stuart alleged that without his permission, lease, let or licence, a group of men, unknown to him, have entered upon a part of the land allotted to him in the Claim Licence and have begun the construction of a building that is intended to be used to house the Mahdia Magistrate’s Court.
As such, the miner has sought the help of former Attorney General Anil Nandlall to get the authorities to cease construction. The claimant is also seeking in excess of $50 million for trespass and an injunction restraining defendants from continuing the construction of the building on his claim.
In a previous effort for an amicable resolution in the matter, a letter dated March 22, 2019, which was also copied to the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards; acting Chief Justice Roxanne George; and Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman as well as Junior Natural Resources Minister, Simona Broomes, the claimant had asked for the construction works to cease and for all structures constructed be demolished and removed. However, this was not done but instead construction works continued. In that letter it was also pointed out that Stuart had previously lodged a complaint with the GGMC since 2017 and as a result, a mines officer of the Commission had informed those conducting the construction that it was being done on Stuart’s licenced claim and that the works must cease. However, those orders were ignored. Stuart had also filed a complaint in writing on January 17, 2019 with both Natural Resources Ministers Raphael Trotman and Simona Broomes but they too did not respond to him.
The Mahdia Magistrate’s Court is being constructed in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) at the cost of $140.385 million. The construction of the court comes under provisions made available to the Supreme Court to fund its 2019 work programmes.
The Chancellor had said last year that the Mahdia Magistrate’s Court is among several district court offices expected to open and will see regular sittings of the court and the availability of centralised services.