CoH Members Statement On Legal Challenges

February 2, 2015

City Hall Hamilton Bermuda Society Of Arts Generic (3)The seven Members* of the Corporation of Hamilton [CoH] who remain desirous of challenging the constitutionality of various pieces of municipal legislation said they wish the public to be aware of the following.

A statement from them said, “On 22nd December 2014, the CoH commenced legal proceedings against the Government of Bermuda. Those proceedings are outstanding, and allege that various parts of the Municipalities Reform Act 2010, the Municipalities Amendment Act 2013, and the Municipalities Amendment Act 2014 are unconstitutional.

“In addition, the CoH say that even if the law itself is constitutional, the way in which it has been exercised falls foul of the constitution.

“Importantly, the CoH is of the view that the Government did not succeed in invalidating the three agreements which are concerned with the Hamilton waterfront’s redevelopment.

“As early as 11th December 2013, the CoH wrote to the Government, informing them of the problems with the legislation, and advising that it was moving to challenge the constitutionality of the recent amendments to municipal laws.

“At the time, the Government’s response was to assume stewardship over the CoH. The Members are clear that the overwhelming purpose of stewardship at that time was to prevent the CoH bringing constitutional proceedings against the Government. But before the Court could make a determination on that, the Government lifted stewardship.

“After finally bringing constitutional proceedings, the CoH is again faced with the Government’s assumption of stewardship. This time, the Minister of Home Affairs was clear that his intention was to use stewardship to end the constitutional challenge against the Government. The Members feel this is a bold abuse of power; something that should be of concern to the public at large.

“The Deputy Mayor says, ‘We should all be concerned about the dictatorial nature of this Government. It doesn’t bode well for any of Bermuda when a Government would go to any length to prevent the courts making a determination about the constitutionality of any law, especially laws which clearly attack the sanctity of private land ownership and freedom to contract.”

“The lengths the Government would go are clear by their approach in the current case. Instead of arguing that the laws they passed are constitutional, they have decided it is best to overrun the CoH, attack its attorneys, and assume control of the case for itself. In these efforts, the Government has enlisted the support of the Mayor, Councillor Lawrence Scott, and the Secretary.

“In combination, they have attempted to use another law firm to oust the CoH’s attorneys from the case, have made unmeritorious complaints to the Bar Council against our attorney, and have prevented the Council conducting legitimate business.

“None of the Members have played any part in these efforts. We have not given our authority for the doing of any of these acts. As such, we wish to inform the public that neither the Mayor, nor the Secretary, are functioning with our authority or concurrence; and have not been doing so, in any respect, since 18th December 2014.

“The Members advise that anybody doing business with the CoH should be especially vigilant. If the Mayor, the Secretary, or any other person purports to speak with the authority of the CoH, you should request confirmation of that authority in the form of a CoH resolution.

“Without a resolution, or at least the signed authority of the Mayor and two Aldermen, the public can be assured that their dealings with the CoH since 18th December 2014 are invalid.

“For their part, the Members remain committed to seeing this challenge through to the end. The CoH has significant holdings of land and other property. It is not public property; it being determined as long ago as the 18th century that the land is privately owned.

“Until 15th October 2013, the CoH had the ability to deal with that land as it thought fit. Like any other private landowner, that meant it could lease it for any length of time, it could sell it, and it could dictate the purposes for which the land was put.

“The CoH’s duty remains to use its land, and other resources, for the benefit of the residents and ratepayers of the City of Hamilton. But that duty cannot be performed properly so long as the Government plays an overly intrusive role in how the CoH operates.

“Both the CoH and the Government are given direction by elected officials; but the two institutions have differing mandates. The Members recognise, as the Government must, that there will be times when the two institutions are in sync; and times when their objectives are not in alignment.

“The recent amendments to the municipalities’ legislation were designed to give the Government an overbearing and dictatorial level of control over the affairs of the CoH. The Members do not believe the Government’s approach is either necessary or justifiable.

“What the Members do believe is that the Government has deliberately disturbed the tenure of the current administration of the CoH for reasons which are not altruistic.

“The Deputy Mayor says, “The moment the Government realised the Corporation entered into agreement with a developer, one the Government would not have chosen, the heat was turned up on this administration. By multiple methods the Government has attacked this administration, and using the media as its conduit, has clouded the vision of the public.”

“The Members remain of the view that the current legal challenge is in the short- and long-term best interest of the residents and ratepayers of the City. While the Government may not agree, it should recognise that it does not have to.

“It is unfortunate that the Mayor, Councillor Lawrence Scott, and the Secretary, are willing to turn the CoH over to the Government, notwithstanding its productive 200-year history.

“The Members cannot understand how the Mayor and Councillor Scott can do this and, at the same time, remain true to their oath of office. Nor can the Members understand how the Secretary can display such disloyalty to the institution that employs him.”

* Alderman Donal Smith [Deputy Mayor], Alderman Gwyneth Rawlins, Alderman Carlton Smith, Councillor Keith Davis,
Councillor RoseAnn Edwards, Councillor John Holdipp, and Councillor George Scott.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Raymond Ray says:

    Oh pleeeeese u’lot at C.o.H / City Hall, what do you think will be accomplished? You are wasting more of the Publics monies with this charade of thinking “you are the big dogs in the yard”:-( The clock is ticking, tic-toc, tic-toc. and thank goodness u’lot will be “his-story”!

  2. Loquatz says:

    Rats nest. Bring on the new election!

  3. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    Well, it’s nice to hear their take on the situation, but I think they completely missed the point of why Government has taken over control of the CoH. Though I think they show a fine example of it.

  4. Mark says:


  5. aceboy says:

    The CoH’s duty remains to use its land, and other resources, for the benefit of the residents and ratepayers of the City of Hamilton. But that duty cannot be performed properly so long as the Government plays an overly intrusive role in how the CoH operates.


    You are still attempting to hand off public land to your chosen developer with no involvement of government at all.

    You want carte blanche because you think as you have been elected the land suddenly belongs to you.

    Based on the COH’s handling of the Black Mayors Conference fiasco you cannot expect anyone to believe a word you say.

  6. swing voter says:

    Ex-Counselor Troy Symonds is a smart guy!

  7. arthur conan doyle says:

    You just cannot make all this stuff up. The CoH is a laughing stock. If I had my way I would not just take it over, i would abolish it.

  8. North Rock says:

    Fahy ought to make it clear that they’ll be paying their own legal fees !!

    • Longtail says:

      Indeed, if the Ministry of Home Affairs is controlling the CoH’s purse strings, Eugene Johnson – the lawyer who says he is acting on behalf of the CoH – must be wondering who is going to pay his bill!

  9. stunned... says:

    this is rich coming from a group of people who have been suspended from COH meetings and insist on further wasting the COH funds on frivolous legal proceedings. when does this foolishness end?

  10. clearasmud says:

    It seems to me that it is in everyone’s best interest that this constitutional challenge should proceed and be decided by the Court’s once and for all!

    • Silence Do Good says:

      Sure the constitutional challenge should continue, to resolve it once and for all at the parties own expense as the tax payers on both sides have had enough of this farce.

      Either way the municipalities are legislated bodies that owe their existence to acts of parliament, their lands are public lands entrusted to their stewardship in which they can collect taxes for the administration there of. When the administration starts to run a mock of that duty, the public can seek redress from the legislature to put them back in line or dissolve them all together. We would not be in this situation if the current administration acted accordingly with their stewardship.

      Funny how we do not hear about the maladministration of the St. George’s or the government takeover of that municipality.

  11. Sky Pilot says:

    Bermuda do not need the C of H.

    Disband it forever.

  12. Truth is killin' me... says:

    If y’all weren’t doin’ a PACK OF NONSENSE none of this would have been needed by the Government. Remember the taking down of signs Donal and Co.? You’re very lucky if you ask me.

  13. Joonya says:

    We would be better served if we brought in Jim Henson’s Muppets to run this thing… SMFH

  14. hmmm says:

    “It is unfortunate that the Mayor, Councillor Lawrence Scott, and the Secretary, are willing to turn the CoH over to the Government, notwithstanding its productive 200-year history.”

    Take off the un from unfortunate and I think you might be getting somewhere.

  15. Family Man says:

    I wonder of the Town of St. George’s would let us borrow their ducking stool for use at the COH?

  16. Ronnie Viera says:

    Please, all of you, just resign! You are incompetent and demonstrated it on so many occasions. Just leave.

  17. Tolerate says:

    The Deputy Mayor says, ‘We should all be concerned about the dictatorial nature of this Government. It doesn’t bode well for any of Bermuda, blah, blah, blah…

    Does this guy live in the real world? You guys at the COH are such a joke right now. Do you think riding on the emotions of last events would some how recruit people to your side and actually sway them to have your back in the disaster that is COH?
    That’s really ALL this is about. Look at the timing (not unlike the PLP opinion articles). Just BS trying to be passed when a segment of Bermuda has been marching against the current Government.
    Sorry COH, you get NO sympathy from here. You have done a pathetic job and the City will be better off when you are ALL removed.

  18. Need Peace says:

    I get what you’re saying! Those that don’t have their heads buried in the sand know what the Minister, the Enemy of the State’s endgame is. It’s a crying shame that this guy has his nose poised in everyone’s ministries and causing havoc. He has his own agenda so you all better BEWARE!!!!

  19. tom cooke says:

    I wonder who the next ” team ” will be in city hall. Can’t come soon enough. ..

  20. Cromwell says:

    Is the issue about the democratic rights of resident people in Hamilton to vote for their local government no matter how compenent they may be can’t be infringed. If the constitution does not specifically allow for a recall vote local or national then Bermuda is stuck with the individuals they vote for. It seems the constitutionally of the issue will be over the right of removal of elected individuals from office no matter what body removes or stops the democratic process.