November 29, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Is much attention given to the actual expertise and qualifications of persons appointed to government committees?

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Colin WilsonwebI am somewhat surprised when I read the names of persons selected to government committees. It is incredulous to me, who know some of these persons reasonably well, why they would even accept the nomination. Perhaps they do not appreciate the seriousness and costs their decisions make? Even if you are not learned nor have the necessary skills it would seem to me a fundamental requirement to learn at least some basic facts about the subject and reasons why the committee you are on has been formed. It is not a reason to accept a nomination to be a member of a committee just out of a sense of duty.

A case in point is highlighted in one of iNews Cayman’s lead stories today written by Georgina Wilcox under the heading “Assessment Committee fails to give reasons for award in land value dispute”.

I can imagine the legal costs so far from both parties will soon reach, if not already, the actual sum of money in dispute.

The dispute in question is over a compulsory purchase order of a piece of land required by the government for a 30ft road and its value.

The National Roads Authority (NRA) have challenged the award given by the committee responsible, the Roads Assessment Committee (RAC), for assessing the compensation (value of the land).

The argument is over whether the land in question is landlocked or whether it did have an easement (actually 2). The land is owned by two brothers, one now deceased, and the access to it had been enjoyed from the adjacent land owned only by the deceased brother. However, the easement had not been registered because, as the daughter of the deceased said, it was family land. There had never been any reason to do so.

The daughter had given testimony to that fact both written and oral to the Committee.

The value given by the NRA was for a landlocked piece of land with no easement.

The difference in values between both parties was therefor substantial.

The RAC sided with the land owners and it was appealed. The appeal court said another court hearing had to be heard and a judgment given as to whether the RAC had “erred in a matter of law”.

You see, the committee did not follow all the rules and regulations that go with their decision. The rules and regulations are clearly stated in law but no one on that committee either never bothered to read the requirements, or if they did, for reasons known only to themselves, failed to comply with them.

It is obvious, I would think, that when a decision is made there MUST BE A REASON as to why.

If there is a dispute over the colour of the sky – I say it is green and you say it is blue. A committee set up to decide this cannot say “the sky is blue” and that’s it. They have to say “The sky is blue and always has been since God made the Earth and sky and everything in it. Go and look outside at it when there are no clouds. If you still see it as green you should go to a doctor – you are colour blind.”

Easy isn’t it?

No it’s not. Especially so when you are dealing with law and in the case I am speaking about there was obviously no professional legal advisor on hand, nor did they seek any legal advice. The RAC made their decision without stating the obvious, ‘why?’ They had to give their reasons for coming to their decision, the basis of their conclusions, together with all relevant details. All as required by law.

Because they failed to do this it has cost both parties huge figures in law fees.

I feel sorry for the landowners and it is us the public that has to pay the Crown’s legal fees.

All because government did not give any thought to the actual expertise and qualifications of the persons appointed to that committee.

Worse still, there has to be another court appearance and more legal fees, unless someone says, enough is enough and it is settled now out of court.

With just a smattering of knowledge, I was once a property valuer, it will be less costly to settle it now without going back to court.

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