By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
ENVIRONMENTALISTS will learn on Saturday whether Justice Petra Hanna-Adderley will grant their application for a stay of Bahamas Petroleum Company’s exploratory oil well drilling.
However, with that drilling already started last Sunday, one of BPC’s attorneys Clare Montgomery, QC, contended that it is virtually impossible to halt it.
Attorneys for all sides were in the Supreme Court Friday for a hearing on an application for judicial review of the government’s decision making process regarding the approvals for BPC to drill for oil in Bahamian waters.
Justice Hanna-Adderley did not make a decision on that judicial review application nor did she decide on on the stay of drilling.
However, during the proceedings, she noted that she was minded to refuse one part of environmentalists’ application, specifically decisions taken by government in February and April as well as a request to apply for those which were out of time based on filed documents alone.
Earlier this month, environmental groups Waterkeeper Bahamas Limited and Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay filed an application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings against the decision to approve exploratory oil drilling in The Bahamas.
Today, Supreme Court Justice Petra Hanna-Adderley denied the application for leave to bring the application out of time with the respect to the February and April decisions only.
In response, Fred Smith, QC, the attorney representing the applicants insisted that this could not be done without an actual hearing, pointing to Supreme Court Rule 53 (3).
This rule states that a judge may determine application without a hearing, unless a hearing is requested in the notice of application and need not sit in open court and in any case, the registry shall serve a copy of the judge’s order on the applicant - provided that in no case shall leave be refused without giving the applicant a hearing.
Justice Hanna-Adderly said she would consider this also and advise on Saturday.
It is also the intention to have several other grounds for judicial review, in relation to government’s decision in August and November, to go to a hearing.