Court to review land lease award

National

By CHARLES MOI
AN administrative decision made by the Land Board and the Lands Department regarding the awarding of an urban development lease for a piece of land at Tokarara in the National Capital District will be reviewed by the national court.
This follows a decision delivered by the Supreme Court last Wednesday, which upheld an appeal filed by John Wanis Wek.
Justice Nicholas Kirriwom, Justice David Cannings and Justice William Neill, in an unanimous decision, found that the trial judge made errors in his decision in the national court.
The judges found that Wek had sufficient interest in the matter being an applicant for the lease, an appellant against the decision of the Land Board and the steps he had taken through normal administrative procedures to show his interest in the land.
“The primary judge unfairly labelled him (Wek) a trespasser,” the judges stated in their decision.
“The primary judge did not appreciate the primary ground of judicial review that the appellant (Wek) sought to argue, that the decisions to facilitate granting the lease to the first respondent (Sobol Trading Ltd) were affected by error of law due to the fact that when it made its application to the Land Board for the lease, the first respondent was a non-existent legal entity, as it was not incorporated until eight months after the closing date for applications.
“The primary judge failed to adequately consider whether there was an arguable case.”
As both grounds in Wek’s appeal were upheld, the appeal was allowed and the decision of the national court delivered on July 22 last year was quashed.
The Supreme Court substituted for the decision of the national court its decision, granting leave to Wek to review the decisions of the Land Board, the secretary for Lands and the Lands minister to facilitate granting the lease to Sobol Trading Ltd.
Costs of the appeal were awarded to Wek.
On May 29, last year, Wek through his lawyer filed proceedings in the national court challenging the decisions of the Land Board, the secretary and the minister to facilitate granting the lease to Sobol Trading Ltd.

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