By Hermisha Rolle, Staff reporter
The Government of Dominica is relying on the decision of the Court of Appeal to grant an application of stay, so that it will be able to go forward with an appeal against the amount of money that has been ordered to pay a former Labour Party Senator for damage caused to her land in 2008.
A tribunal awarded Jacqueline Theodore in excess of$3 million for that damage of her property, of which she has already been paid $ 210,737 according to the Government.
The State is of the view that Theodore should only be entitled to the sum of money that she has already received and that the total sum of $3 million is too excessive.
Speaking to media practitioners today following a hearing at the Court of Appeal, Attorney General Francine Baron-Royer said that it is a concern that this money will have to be taken from tax payers’, and may permanently deprive the State of that sum.
“ The State is concerned that if a stay is not granted then the order is impossible; that the State will be required to pay 3 million dollars to Miss Theodore, in respect of a judgment which we think that we can succeed an appeal on. And we are concerned that if that amount is paid to Miss Theodore that the State may not be able to recover that amount from Miss Theodore, as such we are asking the matter to be stayed, pending the decision of the Court of Appeal,” Baron-Royer said.
One of her concerns is the sourcing of funds to re-pay Theodore.
“One has to be aware that the state does not have an independent source of funds, the 3 million dollars is tax payers money and Government has to be very careful how tax payers’ money is dispersed. Therefore if the State is of the opinion that it has very good grounds of appeal in respect of this matter and it will likely succeed on an appeal and that the likely order of the court might be a significantly lesser sum to be awarded to Miss Theodore…” she explained.
Baron-Royer reiterated that the sum of $210,737 is what the state considers it owes to Theodore, for the trespass onto her land. She said that the State has not acquired the land and is owned by her, but there was entry onto the land and some damage was done that she should be compensated for, which she was.
“Let the Court of Appeal decide whether anything more than that should be paid to Theodore and then if it is, then the State will wish that the stay be granted,” the attorney-general stated.
Theodore had taken the Roosevelt Skerrit Administration to task, stating that she was not fully compensated by the Government, for cutting a section of her land for use as a road some years ago.
However, at a press conference in March Prime Minister Skerrit said a private company was responsible for cutting the road at the time under the United Workers Party (UWP) administration, and not his DLP Government.
“This Government in 2000 to 2005 [and] 2009 never took Mrs. Theodore’s land. Rosie Douglas (dead former prime minister), Pierre Charles (dead former prime minister) and myself were never responsible for taking Mrs. Theodore’s land. A private company back then under the United Workers Party government went in and built a road on property belonging to Mrs. Theodore’s husband. The Government at the time had nothing to do with that,” he explained.
Skerrit reiterated that it was not a government or cabinet action, but that of the private company involved in lumber. He said the UWP Government got involved in the matter for political reasons, and the then minister of works authorised that the government would compensate the Theodore family in respect to the trespassers.
He blamed the entire situation on the “mistake” of the UWP’s minister of works, who caused the government to become a party in this matter.