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Hamilton waterfront legal row rumbles on

Leaving court: Eron Hill and Michael MacLean (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The developer behind the failed redevelopment of Hamilton’s waterfront has launched a fresh legal action in a bid to get compensation from the Government.

Michael MacLean claimed in his latest civil suit that two of his firms – Allied Development Partners Ltd and its parent company the Allied Trust – should be allowed to sue the Government after it threw out agreements that gave Allied Trust a 262-year lease on a 20-acre city waterfront site and ADPL the exclusive right to develop the land.

The controversial deal to redevelop Hamilton’s waterfront was awarded to ADPL by the Corporation of Hamilton.

But the company was stripped of the contract in 2014 when the One Bermuda Alliance Government passed legislation in Parliament to void the agreements and bring an end to the $1.8 billion project.

The Government’s intervention came after a 2013 report by the Ombudsman found there had been “dazzling, infinite, relentless” maladministration at the Corporation of Hamilton.

The legal wrangle went to arbitration and was dismissed in November 2017.

Other legal avenues pursued by Mr MacLean for compensation have also failed.

Mr MacLean said in an affidavit attached to the new lawsuit that he had been unable to afford to pursue the compensation for the past five years.

He highlighted the failed Par-la-Ville hotel project that he was also involved with.

Mr MacLean said: “As a direct consequence of being entangled in separate criminal and civil proceedings, I lost my family home, my business, and due to being impecunious, had to move my family into the pool house of a family friend for nearly two years.”

He added that, as a result, he could not assist ADPL and the Allied Trust with their claims and that they were “without an ability to fund the arbitration”.

Mr MacLean has asked for a judicial review to get a declaration from the Supreme Court that ADPL and the Allied Trust can pursue a claim under section 13 of the Constitution which was drawn up to give protection against “deprivation of property”.

Mr MacLean said he also wanted the court to issue an order that the companies were entitled to pursue compensation under the Municipalities Amendment Act 2013 on the basis that they “did not receive adequate compensation” in the statutory arbitration.

He added in the affidavit that he asked the orders to “obtain legal clarity and with a view to saving costs”

Mr MacLean claimed ADPL stood to make $90 million in profit from the waterfront project in earlier proceedings.

Eron Hill, a trustee of the Allied Trust and a director of ADPL, told The Royal Gazette the new claim was an attempt to be “made whole” and recoup what was spent on the scheme.

Letters between Mr Hill and the Commission of Inquiry into Historic Losses of Land were attached as exhibits to support Mr MacLean’s affidavit.

Mr Hill wrote to the commission in March and asked it to “consider the egregious land grab of the Hamilton waterfront”.

He told the commission in June that the move set a precedent that allowed the Government to take someone’s land, home or business on the basis that they could challenge it if they had the resources.

Mr Hill wrote: “But … what about those who do not have the privilege of endless disposable resources to spend fighting a legal battle?”

Norma Wade-Miller, the commission’s chairwoman said that ADPL and the Allied Trust may have remedies before a court but they were not available from the commission.

She wrote: “We conclude that since compensation is available should you pursue the matter before the courts - this not a systemic land grab.”

The exhibits also revealed that Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, wrote to Mr MacLean in July.

She asked him to clarify if he wanted “contribution to your legal costs of the arbitration or … compensation for losses that may have been occasioned by the Municipalities Amendment Act 2013”.

Mr MacLean replied and asked for confirmation of the “PLP government’s position with respect to compensating Allied”.

But Mr Hill said there had not yet been a response.

The application for leave to apply for judicial review was filed last month and listed the Attorney-General and the Minister of Home Affairs as defendants.

The Government did not respond to a request for comment.

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