Appeals Court Ruling On Municipal Reform Bill

March 22, 2022

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the Municipal Reform Bill “if enacted will not contravene section 9 of the Constitution” and has dismissed the appeal brought by the Corporation of Hamilton.

The ruling said, “The Corporation of Hamilton contended before the Chief Justice that the decision of the Government of Bermuda to convert the Corporation into [as the Corporation would characterise it], a quango, would, if implemented, as was proposed, by the Municipalities Reform Bill 2019 result, if the Bill became Law, in the passing of an Act which would contravene sections 1 and 13 of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968, and that a number of Municipal Amendment Acts already contravened those sections. As things turned out the Senate decided – on 20 March 2019 – not to pass the Bill. But the Government has indicated that it will table the Bill again in substantially the same form.

“As the Chief Justice recorded, the legislation with which we are now concerned is deeply controversial; but the Court is not concerned with the political decisions involved, or whether the legislation at issue is, or is not, wise or appropriate, but only with whether or not it is unlawful as being contrary to the Constitution or the common law.”

“The Reform Bill, if enacted will not contravene section 9 of the Constitution. I would, accordingly, dismiss the appeal,” it added.

Following the ruling, Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling said, “We are naturally disappointed by the Judge’s ruling in this matter and are currently in the process of reviewing the lengthy judgement with our legal team. We will report back to the Corporation’s Council members at a meeting, after which point we will determine a way forward.”

The full judgment follows below [PDF here]:

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