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Lawyer Warns Cabbage Beach Dispute Is ‘Far From Over’

The entrance to Cabbage Beach.

The entrance to Cabbage Beach.

CORRECTION: IN A report in The Tribune on May 13 (“Lawyer warns Cabbage Beach dispute is far from over”) it was said that Access Industries had “insisted that the Cabbage Beach Business Owners Association (CBBOA) did not have the right to exist because the vendors were not employees hired by property owners but each operator was individually contracted to provide a service”.

We have been asked by A I Land Bahamas Ltd to make clear this was not the case. In fact, Access Industries applied for the union’s legal action claiming the right to operate their business to be struck out on April 4 on the basis that the CBBOA, as a union registered under the Industrial Relations Act, did not have the capacity to bring this action. Under the Industrial Relations Act, a union can only commence legal action in the Supreme Court in very limited circumstances, namely in respect of property owned by the union itself, or to seek an injunction to prevent a breach of the Industrial Relations Act, and this action concerned neither.

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

THE ongoing dispute over an access path giving beach vendors access to Cabbage Beach is “far from over,” lawyer for the Cabbage Beach Business Owners Association Halston Moultrie said yesterday.

Mr Moultrie suggested that the Cabbage Beach Business Owners Association (CBBOA) still has a card or two to play in light of Justice Bernard Turner’s ruling against the association last Thursday, telling The Tribune: “Whether we accept or appeal the judge’s decision, the matter is far from being over.”

However, Mr Moultrie said the CBBOA is still waiting to obtain a copy of Justice Turner’s written ruling to determine the best way forward, claiming that it is “almost impossible” for him to properly advise his clients without it.

On May 5, Justice Turner sided with Access Industries, the landowners, over a dispute about whether vendors had a right to traverse the path in question to get to the beach.

Justice Turner acceded to a position put forward by legal counsel for Access Industries suggesting that the association did not hold the legal position to file an injunction or block the property’s owners from restricting vendors.

Access Industries applied for the union's legal action claiming the right to operate their business to be struck out on April 4 on the basis that the CBBOA, as a union registered under the Industrial Relations Act, did not have the capacity to bring the action. Access Industries further charged that the vendors had signed agreements giving the property owners the right to cancel the contracts at any time.

“Our position at this stage is that the matter is far from over,” Mr Moultrie said when contacted yesterday. “The independent business owners of the Cabbage Beach Business Owners Association, they have a right to bring their individual action because they are all licensed by the Bahamas government to conduct business on Cabbage Beach.”

Mr Moultrie added: “We cannot say exactly how we’re going to proceed because we need to know his (Justice Turner’s) reasoning, in terms of whether we should appeal it, whether we should just abandon that course of action, or whether we should initiate new actions individually.”

In 2014, ownership of the Cabbage Beach property was transferred from Atlantis – owned by Brookfield Asset Management – to a subsidiary of Access Industries, the One&Only Ocean Club. Prior to the sale of the property, Atlantis had allowed access to the beach via an easement through their private property; however, the company had petitioned the government on several occasions to address the vendor operation at the beach.

In December 2015, the vendors’ association filed an injunction in the Supreme Court to prevent Access Industries from restricting access by way of the path. Subsequently, a 30-day injunction was put in place. Further applications were made to get that injunction extended, but motions were eventually denied, allowing Access Industries the leeway to erect a fence to restrict access to the beach atop its property. The day after some vendors protested the fence was taken down.

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