Froylan Gilharry gets relief at CCJ Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 July 2017 00:00

Belizean bus owner Froylan Gilharry Sr., has won a judgment against the Belize Government at the Caribbean Court of Justice. The final court of appeal in Belize has ruled that the Transport Board did not properly consider the renewal of Gilharry’s application to lawfully operate his bus business, which frustrated his legitimate expectation to operate his company. This CCJ win is the first that Gilharry has gotten, because both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal rejected his claims.

For over 40 year, his company, Gilharry’s Bus Line, operated buses which ran along the northern route of the country. That’s until 2008, when the authorities sought to make policy changes in the transportation system. Some operators strongly objected to those changes and they sought an injunction in the court against the Transport Board.

That injunction was granted, and it was not lifted until 2011, and in that time, the transport landscape had been unregulated. The Board attempted to regularize the bus operators, but only after consulting with those bus owners. The Board announced that it would deploy a new policy and schedules. This included temporary road service permits for 3 months to all bus owners, who applied and paid the fees. Gilharry was offered these new permits, but the routes he was being allowed to run were far less lucrative than he had before. He refused to renew the permits he had that were expired. He completely disagreed with the routes and schedules he was offered. Instead he decided to run his old bus routes, until he was stopped by police.

He sued the Transport Board and claimed that the Transport Board acted beyond its powers, when it did not properly and fully consider the renewal of his application, and it frustrated his legitimate expectation to continue his business, as he did for 40 or so years.

The Supreme Court rejected his claim, and so did the Court of Appeal. The CCJ, after considering the matter, found no complaint with the way the Transport Board exercised its statutory powers and duties.

The CCJ has found, however, that he had a legitimate expectation, that he could operate as he did before. This was allegedly a commitment which the board made with Gilharry, which they did not honor after the injunction was lifted. The CCJ judges found that the Board did not give him a proper opportunity to express his objections and concerns. From the judges’ perspective, fairness under the law required that he be given that opportunity, especially since the new policies affected him greatly.

Unfortunately, Gilharry was unable to provide evidence to assess the damage done to his business, since he failed to properly quantify the negative effects that his company experienced. So, the court made the declarations that the Board did not lawfully and properly consider the renewal application of the Appellant, and that it frustrated the legitimate expectation of the Appellant.

Also, the court has ordered the Transport Board to pay Gilharry’s costs before the CCJ, and the courts below. That payment of cost includes an immediate payment of $40,000.