CCJ orders GGMC to grant licence to Diamond Quarry

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The Caribbean Court of Justice has handed down a judgment ordering the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to grant a quarry licence to Diamond Quarry for which the company had applied since 2014.

The judgment was issued on June 15, 2022 when the court dismissed the appeal of the GGMC v Diamond Quarry Inc and Baracara Quarries Inc [2022] CCJ 9 (AJ) GY, a press release from the court stated.

Diamond Quarry had applied to the GGMC on March 28, 2014 for the quarry licence for 848 acres of mining land known as ‘Monkey Jump’ after doing its due diligence to ensure that the land was not legally held nor applied for by anyone.

In September 2014, GGMC issued a Cease-Work Order against Baracara Quarries Inc who was occupying a portion of the land that Diamond had applied for and later published a Notice of Intention in the Official Gazette to grant the quarry licence to Diamond to which no one objected.

GGMC assured Diamond that it would be granted the licence as soon as all the statutory documentation was submitted and verified, the press release from the court noted.

The documents were submitted and GGMC told Diamond Quarry that its application had been ‘favourably considered’ but later in February, 2015 said Baracara had applied for the same land and that the land would have to be divided between the two quarry companies.

Diamond Quarry had approached the High Court of Guyana alleging that GGMC’s decision to subdivide the land was grossly unfair and based on favouritism – something which the court had agreed and ordered GGMC to quash the decision to subdivide the land; grant the licence to Diamond; and not grant a licence to the land to anyone else.

GGMC appealed to the Court of Appeal which dismissed the appeal and affirmed the orders of the High Court except that it sent Diamond’s application back to be considered by the GGMC but GGMC then asked the CCJ to reverse the Court of Appeal’s decision.

In their judgment, the CCJ found that the land for which Diamond Quarry had applied, had not been applied for by anyone else, but that GGMC had nonetheless decided to subdivide the land between Diamond and Baracara.

“The Court considered that this was unfair and unlawful because the GGMC had created a legitimate expectation that it would grant the licence to Diamond and had not presented any compelling public interest for not doing so,” the CCJ contended.

In the circumstances, the Court considered that it was appropriate to restore the order of the High Court and to require the GGMC to issue the quarry licence to Diamond Quarry. The GGMC was also required to pay the costs of the appeal.

Justice Adrian Saunders, President of the Court and Justices Jacob Wit, Winston Anderson, Maureen Rajnauth-Lee, and Andrew Burgess heard the matter and Justice Winston Anderson delivered the judgment.

Hari Ramkarran SC and Kamal Ramkarran appeared for the appellant while Edward Luckhoo SC, Timothy Jonas SC, and Eleanor Luckhoo appeared for the first respondent.

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