THA hit with another injunction for trespass

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams – File photo

A HIGH COURT judge has granted an injunction directing the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to immediately stop constructing a road at Kilgwyn Estate.

On March 27, Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams granted the injunction to Ray Shastri Rampersad and Savitri Rampersad, owners of Kilgwyn Estate, which comprises 21.2956 hectares.

The Rampersads are the sole owners of the property, on the southwest coast of Tobago, which is considered prime real estate, with a white-sand beach on its northern border and the Kilgwyn Swamp Park nearby.

“It has been a much-sought-after piece of real estate by investors both locally and internationally,” the injunction application said.

The Rampersads are represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Kent Samlal, Natasha Bisram and Robert Abdool-Mitchell.

It said on January 24, Ray Rampersad visited the property and saw excavators and dump trucks excavating part of the land. The application said it appeared a bridge and roadway were being constructed.

The injunction application contends the Rampersad did not give the THA permission to enter the property or build a road on it.

It further noted that they have since received a survey plan which identified the proposed road the THA intends to construct. The plan, the claim said, also included building a highway to the north of the property, on approximately five acres of land, where there is a sugar mill.

“This portion comprises part of the property (for) which the claimants sought and obtained approvals from Town and Country Planning Division for development of residential lots.”

The lawsuit said the property was last valued in 2010 at $35 million and the owners were entitled to damage for the “diminution in value of the property” because of acts by the THA, loss of profit from the development and sale of the residential lots, the value of the land to the north for the proposed road, the cost of reinstating the property before the alleged trespass and the costs of surveys, valuation reports, experts and legal fees.

“At all material times, the defendant knew or ought to have known that the property was owned by the claimants as the defendant has previously entered into negotiations with the claimants to purchase the entire property.

“Those negotiations fell through because the defendant could not afford to purchase the property.”

The claim said after the trespass, the Rampersads contacted THA officials and agreed to negotiate a compromise and payment of compensation, but the latter has been “totally silent and has ignored the various attempts to settle the matter while continuing with the works with impunity despite objection.

“The defendant has wilfully disregarded the claimants’ rights and attempted to run roughshod over them by blatantly trespassing and remaining on the claimants’ property.”

This is the third injunction against the THA over its development projects.

On February 28, Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell granted an injunction to stop the construction of part of the road after lawyers representing a resident, Derek Hearn, of Friendship Estate, argued construction had damaged his property and had begun without the necessary approvals.

That injunction was later lifted by consent on March 19.

It was agreed that the THA would refrain from taking possession, trespassing on or doing construction work on the land identified as belonging to Hearn. The THA also agreed not to encroach on the pasture on Hearn’s property.

On May 26, 2023, a similar injunction was granted after the Environmental Management Agency also filed a case against the development for lacking necessary approvals. It was later lifted and a certificate of environmental clearance was granted.

The latest injunction restrains the THA from entering or trespassing on Kilgwyn Estate and orders it to stop all construction immediately.

Avionne Thomas appeared for the THA.