Hyman Joseph v Saint Lucia Air & Sea Ports Authority

JurisdictionSt Lucia
CourtHigh Court
JudgeEDWARDS, J.
Judgment Date09 May 2007
Judgment citation (vLex)[2007] ECSC J0509-1
Date09 May 2007
Docket NumberCLAIM NO. SLUHCV 2006/0110
[2007] ECSC J0509-1

IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

CLAIM NO. SLUHCV 2006/0110

Between:
Hyman Joseph
Claimant
and
Saint Lucia Air & Sea Ports Authority
Defendant
Appearances :

Mr. L. Faisal for Claimant

Mr. S. Anthony for Defendant

Introduction
EDWARDS, J.
1

This is an administrative claim for judicial review of the decisions of a Public Authority which prevents the Claimant from entering the Port area of the Castries Sea Port to conduct legitimate business.

Background Facts
2

The Claimant Mr. Hyman Joseph worked as a dispatcher for K.C. Trucking Co. Ltd at the Castries Sea Port from 1997until 2002.

3

The Defendant St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (the Authority) is a Statutory body corporate established under Section 3 of The St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority Act Cap. 8.13 of The Revised Laws of St. Lucia 2001 (the Act). The Authority is responsible for the maintenance, supervision, management and control of sea Ports in St. Lucia. The General Manager as Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, exercises all the functions entrusted to him by the Act and Regulations.

4

On the 28 th June 2002 Mr. Joseph was denied entry to the Port area during investigations concerning his alleged involvement in the unlawful removal of lumber from the Port. The lumber was consigned to Monplaisir Supplies Ltd and it was in the custody of the Authority when it was stolen and transported from the Port. Since then Mr. Joseph has been prevented from entering the Port to perform any duties as a dispatcher, despite several attempts to obtain passes.

5

By a Fixed Date Claim filed on the 27 th March 2006, Mr. Joseph is seeking an order to quash the decisions of the Authority to refuse him entry to the Port area. The grounds of the claim are that the Authority's actions against Mr. Joseph involved aspects of Illegality, Irrationality, Procedural Impropriety and Loss of Earnings.

6

In his time-honoured classification of the grounds on which administrative action is subject to control by judicial review in Council for Civil Service Unions v Minister of Civil Service [1984] 3 All E.R. 935; Lord Diplock stated at pages 950–951: that "Illegality" means "that the decision maker must understand correctly the law that regulates his decision-making power and must give effect to it." Irrationality means "what can by now be succinctly referred to as Wednesbury unreasonableness (SeeAssociated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation [1947] 2 All E.R. 680). It applies to a decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it … It is an inferred though unidentified mistake of law by the decision maker …" Procedural impropriety includes "failure to act with procedural fairness towards the person who will be affected by the decision …"

The Statutory Framework
7

Section 73 of the Act provides:

  • "(1) The Ministers may, on the recommendation of the Authority, make regulations generally with respect to the maintenance, supervision, control and management of the ports and the approaches, … and for the maintenance of order on any premises … in a port and the approaches and for the carrying out of the provisions of this Act, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, regulations made under this section may contain provisions with respect to—

    • (a) …

    • (b) the control of all persons and vehicles on such premises, the maintenance of order thereon and the admission or exclusion of persons therefrom and the charges, if any, to be made for such admission;

    • (c) regulating, controlling and prohibiting the doing or omission of any thing or class of thing within the boundaries of any port or any specified part or parts of any port either at all times or on any occasion or occasions;

    • (d) to (m) …

      (n) any thing required to be prescribed by this Act and any matter or thing in respect of which it may be necessary or expedient to make regulations to give effect to the purposes of this Act."

8

The Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (Sea Ports) Regulations No. 92 of 1985 (the Regulations) were made pursuant to Section 73 of the Act, and came into operation on the 7 th December 1985.

9

The Regulations define 'port area' in section 2 to mean "the fenced area in a port approved by Customs for the manipulation and storage of goods and any other premise or property owned or used by the Authority."

10

Section 3 (1) of the Regulations states that: "A person entering or remaining in a port area … shall be subject to the general control and direction of the General Manager. For securing the safety or protection of goods in a port area and for the prevention of crime or any contravention of these regulations the General Manager may refuse to grant permission to any person wishing to enter or remain in a port or port area without assigning any reason for such refusal and may at any time revoke any permission granted earlier to any person."

11

Section 3 (2) and (3) of the Regulations state:

"(2) The General Manager may authorize any person to carry out any or all of these functions under these regulations and may in a like manner revoke any such authorization at any time.

(3) The General Manager may wherever it is necessary in his or her opinion to do so close any port or part thereof to the public at such times and for such periods as he or she sees fit and may in a like manner restrict access to a port area to such persons of vehicles or such classes of persons of vehicles as the General Manager shall determine."

12

Section 4 and 5 of the Regulations state:

"4. (1) The General Manager reserves the right of admission to a port area and may restrict entry to any person unless he or she has legitimate business in a port area.

(2) Every person entering into within or leaving a port area shall when so requested by an authorized person state his or her true name, address and the nature of his or her business and produce any written permission or authority to that authorized person.

(3) …

(4) Any authorized person may stop the entry of any person to a port area or eject any person from a port area unless he or she has legitimate business.

(5) …

(6) Any person wishing to enter a port area for a legitimate purpose between the hours of 6:00 p.m and 6:00 a.m. may apply to the General Manager who may allow such entry subject to the condition that the Authority is not liable for personal injury whether fatal or otherwise to any such person and/or loss or damage to his or her property howsoever caused.

5. (1) …

(2) Any person who seeks to enter a port shall first apply for and obtain an entry pass or identification disc which may be restricted to such parts in a port area as the Authority may designate in the pass.

(3) The General Manager without stated reasons may delay or refuse to issue any pass or identification disc or withdraw any identification disc already issued under paragraphs (1) and (2)."

13

The St. Lucia Port Police are established under Section 74 of The Act to prevent crime, maintain order, protect property and generally to assist in the enforcement of the provisions of the Act and Regulations.

14

Section 88 of the Act states further that:

"The General Manager may, by notice in writing authorize any officer of the Authority to maintain order upon any premises used by the Authority … and any officer so authorized shall, in the performance of such duty, have all the powers, rights, privileges and protection of a police officer."

The Evidence
15

The parties have relied on the Affidavits filed in support of and in opposition to the claim. Though Witness Statements were filed in pursuance of an Order of the Court, they were not admitted as evidence since they were not verified by the witnesses on oath.

16

The undisputed evidence is that on the 15 th July 2002 Mr. Joseph was arrested and charged by the Port Police Officer Mr. Cliophus Sonson for conspiring to steal lumber valued at $25,497.99 belonging to Monplaisir Supplies Ltd, from the Castries Sea Port, and interfering with property left in the custody of the Authority, on the 6 th June 2002. Mr. Kurt Satney, an employee of the Authority and Mr. Luther Thomas, Manager of Capital Management were also arrested and charged with Mr. Joseph as co-conspirators/accomplices.

17

On the 28 th June 2002 during the course of investigations the Authority refused to give Mr. Joseph a pass to enter the port area, having revoked his previous pass. On the 28 th July 2002 Mr. Joseph was dismissed by his employer K.C. Trucking Co. Ltd. on the grounds that as a dispatcher, he was required to be present at the Port on a daily basis, failing which his employer was unable to function effectively.

18

Thereafter Mr. Joseph eked out a living by doing odd jobs outside of the Port precincts, for K.C. Trucking Co. Ltd wherever such jobs were available.

19

While the criminal case against Mr. Joseph was pending his lawyers Mr. Richard Frederick & Associates wrote the following letter to the Authority's General Manager on the 12 th November 2003—

"… Dear Sir,

HYMAN JOSEPH

We act herein on behalf of our client at caption who was employed with K.C. Trucking but can no longer operate with the said trucking company given the fact that he has been denied entry unto the wharf, the place he most frequently functions.

Unfortunately, about a year and a half ago, our client was charged with conspiring with others to steal goods from the wharf. This is an allegation at which he professes his innocence. The matter is before the Court and is yet to be determined. For that reason, our client has been denied access to the wharf, the effect of which has left him in an economic disaster.

Whilst I do...

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