ATTORNEYS for Prime Minister Perry Christie have filed a motion in the Supreme Court asking that Justice Rhonda Bain recuse herself from hearing an ongoing judicial review into allegations that Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard illegally increased the size of his property.
According to court documents filed by one of Mr Christie’s attorneys Ryszard Humes, on January 26, the prime minister has argued that Justice Bain has reached the legal age for retirement and should therefore recuse herself from the judicial review or any other cases in which he is a party.
The motion was filed by Mr Christie in his capacity as minister responsible for Crown land.
An affidavit filed by Ms Humes, of the firm Munroe & Associates, said: “Her ladyship has reached the age of retirement for a sitting judge in the Supreme Court of the Bahamas and that the basis of this is information that the chief justice of the Bahamas, at the opening of the legal year, stated that her ladyship has applied for an extension as a Supreme Court judge of the Bahamas.
“The pay and benefits paid by the public purse to a serving and sitting Supreme Court judge is higher than that paid by the public purse to a retired Supreme Court judge. This information is supplied to me by review of the government of the Bahamas’ website on salaries and review of the Judges Remuneration and Pensions Act.
“That the first respondent (Mr Christie) asks that her ladyship step down so as to recuse herself from the further hearing of this action and in any of the other related actions to which the first respondent is a party.”
Justice Bain was appointed as a Supreme Court justice on August 14, 2009.
The mandatory retirement age for judges is 70.
A hearing has been scheduled for 10am on Monday to hear the motion.
The Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay, now called Save the Bays, has waged a long running court battle with Mr Nygard over the construction/development activities at his Lyford Cay home, which stem from allegations that the activities have led to substantial growth of the property.
The group claims that the Lyford Cay resident has almost doubled the size of his property, from 3.25 acres to 6.1 acres, since he acquired it in 1984, by allegedly reclaiming Crown land from the sea. The advocacy group has alleged that Mr Nygard achieved this without the necessary permits and approvals, claims that have been denied by the fashion designer.
In 2015, Justice Bain was asked to recuse herself from committal proceedings involving Mr Nygard through a notice of motion filed in the Supreme Court by his former lawyer Keod Smith on the grounds of bias. However Justice Bain later ruled that Mr Nygard had not proved there was evidence of bias or apparent bias towards him and found the accusations to be “scandalous”.
The Court of Appeal has affirmed Justice Bain’s rejection of the application in an appeal of the decision by the Lyford Cay resident.