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Girl Guides win decades-old dispute with BHS

The Bermuda Girl Guides Association won a decades-old legal dispute with Bermuda High School for Girls, via a court ruling that it owns the land where its hut is situated.

The 100-year-old Guides Association said the school promised 84 years ago that the land, on its campus, was for the Guides. However, the BHS Association questioned whether it had the authority to convey the property outright to the Girl Guides Association.

The unresolved legal issue delayed renovations at the venue, known as the Lady Asser Hut, including the replacement of cracked and crumbling steps, the building of a disabled pathway and the levelling of the back area for gardening and camping.

The Bermuda Girl Guides Association finally resorted to court action to settle the matter, and issued a writ against BHS in May.

According to Denise Giles-Woodhouse, a former Island Commissioner, the Association began communications with BHS in 1967 to advise them they were ready to take full ownership of the Asser Hut, situated on the BHS campus.

That did not happen, and numerous Girl Guides boards and commissioners tried to resolve the situation, to no avail. Mrs Giles-Woodhouse began the campaign again when she took over as Island Commissioner in 2006.

At the time the writ was issued, she issued a joint statement with BHS head Linda Parker explaining: “The Bermuda High School for Girls has been neighbours for more than 80 years with the Bermuda Girl Guides.

“In 1927, the Lady Asser Hut property was conveyed by the Hotel Bermudiana Company Limited to the Bermuda High School Association by way of trust to be held for the benefit of the Bermuda Girl Guide Association.

“It has always been the Girl Guides' understanding that BHS would transfer the land to them once the Girl Guides Association was incorporated and had the power to hold land. In 1957, the Bermuda Girl Guides was incorporated by an Act of Parliament which conferred on them the power to hold land.”

However, the wording of the terms of the trust and the “restrictive nature of the powers exercisable by the trustee” meant the BHS Association did not believe it had the authority to convey the property outright to the Bermuda Girl Guides Association, according to the statement.

“The Girl Guides now want to take full ownership of the property and in order to resolve any uncertain issues of gifting or transferring the property to the Girl Guides, both parties are seeking the court's approval on the conveyance of the property to the Bermuda Girl Guides Association,” it said.

The matter was successfully resolved yesterday morning after a brief court hearing in which Puisne Judge Norma Wade-Miller signed an order agreed between lawyers Arthur Hodgson on behalf of the Girl Guides Association and Jennifer Haworth on behalf of BHS.

The news was greeted with delight by Mrs Giles-Woodhouse, who told

The Royal Gazette: “We are absolutely thrilled and overwhelmed. These eight minutes of court proceedings followed over 50 years of discussion and determination to have a positive outcome.

“We thank the Bermuda High School for Girls for coming to a final agreement that the property is duly owned by, and the responsibility of, the Bermuda Girl Guides Association.

“We have been in existence for 100 years and we can now look forward to the future of Girl Guiding in Bermuda for the next 100 years. This is a profound legacy for the future girls of the Island.”

Bermuda Girl Guide Association has settled a dispute with the Bermuda High School for Girls over who owns the Asser Hut (pictured.) Pictured are Island Commissioner Shirlene Tucker, past Commissioner Denise Giles-Woodhouse and Deputy Commissioner Jorge-Ann Costley.

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Published September 21, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated September 21, 2011 at 9:43 am)

Girl Guides win decades-old dispute with BHS

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