Judicial review of legality of land grab commission – The Royal Gazette

Created: March 04, 2022 08:00

On the first hurdle: Khalid Wasi, also known as Raymond Davis, successfully requested a review from the Historic Land Losses Commission of Inquiry (file photo)

A commission investigating land grabbing allegations will face a judicial review to see if it acted within the law, it was revealed yesterday.

Khalid Wasi, also known as Raymond Davis, and Myron Piper successfully argued before Assistant Judge Hugh Southey that the commission acted unlawfully in denying them the opportunity to testify.

The two claimed that the scope of the commission at the start – which had been set by David Burt, the Prime Minister – was too broad and that it had acted beyond its powers when it redefined what its function should be. mandate.

But Judge Southey dismissed a fourth ground for review – that the commission members had conflicts of interest because of their ties to the legal profession, banks and real estate brokers.

Judge Southey ruled that the two had provided no evidence to support the allegation.

Mr Wasi and Mr Piper called for a review in January last year, saying the commission was a sham and the commissioners had failed to act impartially.

But it took more than a year for a hearing to be held – as all of Bermuda’s full-time civilian judges, including Chief Justice Narinder Hargun, had conflicts of interest.

Judge Southey, an associate judge of the High Court in England and acting judge in Cayman, was appointed to the courts of Bermuda by Rena Lalgie, the governor, last month.

Ms Lalgie made the appointment after Mr Wasi and Mr Piper wrote to her asking for an independent judge to be brought to hear their case.

Mr. Wasi and Mr. Piper had named Mr. Burt and the chair of the commission, former Justice Norma Wade-Miller, as respondents in the case.

But it was agreed at yesterday’s hearing that the commission as a body should be the defendant rather than individuals.

The commission was created in 2019 to examine historical thefts of property and to “identify any person, natural or legal, responsible for these historical losses of citizens’ property”.

Its findings were presented to the House of Assembly last December after the committee heard testimony from dozens of witnesses over the course of a year.

The report is expected to be debated by MPs during this parliamentary session.

Judge Southey dismissed an application by Messrs. Wasi and Piper for an injunction to stifle all matters related to the commission, including parliamentary debate.

He stressed that the investigation was over and that he had no power to issue orders to Parliament.

The exam will take place on July 11 and is expected to last four days.