On Monday and Tuesday the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council consisting of Lords Neuberger; Mance; Sumption; Carnwath and Toulson heard submissions from the Parties on the appeal filed by Antigua Power Company Ltd. (APC).
On Monday, the Court announced that they had come to the view that there was an agreement between APC and APUA. In short they decided that the Cabinet approval for “phase 1” and thereafter the further Cabinet approval to the joint venture agreement which had been signed by APC and APUA (“JVC”) could have no other meaning than that there was an existing agreement between APC and APUA for APC’s providing 50.9 mw generating power.
Further, that it could not have been the intention that APC would spend a large amount of money in building a plant to house the generators for both phase 1 and phase 2 , if there remained a possibility that APC were not to be partners with APUA in respect of “phase 2” even if “phase 2” had not been expressly approved by Cabinet.
Having declared on Monday that the JVC was binding between APC and APUA, the Privy Council on Tuesday heard submissions on the issue of relief, that is, APC’s claim for remedies against the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police. APUA was not involved in this part of the hearing.
The hearing yesterday concluded with the Board directing Counsel for the Parties to provide further written Submissions to the Board.
The Appellant’s written submissions are to be filed by Friday 24th May; the Respondents’ submissions by Friday 31st May, and if the Appellant wishes to reply, then its further submissions are to be filed no later than 5th June.
The Board’s reasons for their decision on the agreement will be provided when they deliver their full Judgment which will include their decision on the relief sought and whether the Prime Minister abused his public office by calling on the Police to attend the plant and stop APC from placing the generators in the plant. The Board is yet to decide if they should grant any relief in this respect.
This has become an important issue not only because of what happened but for future guidance in similar circumstances, including the question: what can the police legally do at the request of a landowner (the Crown, in this case) and whether they can only act if they have reason to believe that there may be an actual breach of the peace or if there are other circumstances in which it will be reasonable for them to act, such as where there is Crown land involved.
It appears that the question of damages will be remitted to the High Court for assessment with evidence being led on that issue and further submissions to be made by Counsel in that regard.