News

Plaza war twist

AG yet to settle court order 20 years after ownership ruling

BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, December 10, 2012    

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AFTER more than two decades, the Office of the Administrator General (AG) is yet to execute a Supreme Court and Privy Council order to act on behalf of the original owners of a plot of land at 10 Red Hills Road, Federal Investors Ltd, to make the transfer of ownership to its rightful owner, Exley Ho.

The land has been a source of contention between Warmon Ltd — the operators of Market Place Plaza — and Baron Stephens — the owner of Baron's Plaza. Both plazas adjoin each other with the disputed land behind them both.

The rift widened recently in dramatic fashion as workmen for both parties almost came to blows after Stephens attempted to block all exits on the premises to vehicular and pedestrian traffic as a result of his having secured a lease from Federal Investors Ltd.

Stephens made the move after Justice Ingrid Mangatal exempted him from an injunction that barred him from interfering with the property which was leased from Ho by Worman Ltd over a decade ago.

Stephens was twice taken into custody while two of his employees were also collared by the cops who were on hand to prevent any further violence. All three were later released.

The fracas came two weeks ago on the heels of an ugly incident on the premises which is currently used as a parking lot for patrons of the Market Place plaza.

The land was bought by Stephens' father Rudyard from Federal Investors in 1978 for the sum of $65,000.

However, the principal of Federal Investors Gilbert Baron Jobson died intestate before the transfer of titles could be effected and his holdings were taken over by the AG. The elder Stephens in turn sold the property to Ho for $200,000 in September 1981.

Because Jobson died without making a will, his company was struck off the roll of the Registrar of Companies and was declared defunct. However, due to legal wrangling between Stephens and Ho over ownership of the land, the AG was ordered by the Supreme Court to re-enlist Federal Investors and ensure that the transfer of title of Ho was effected.

To date, the title for the land is still registered in the name of Federal Investors.

According to court documents obtained by the Jamaica Observer, a Supreme Court ruling made in October 1990, which named Rudyard Stephens (also deceased), the Administrator General for Jamaica, and Krias Ltd as defendants and Exley Ho as plaintiff, ordered the Administrator General to:

"Specifically perform the agreement of sale made between Gilbert Baron Jobson, as vendor, on or about the 11th day of September 1978 in respect of lands known as 10 Red Hills Road, St Andrew registered at volume 877 folio 12; volume 215 folio 79 and volume 236 folio 29 of the register book of Titles and Rudyard Stephens as purchased by way of executing a transfer to be rendered to her by Exley Ho of the interests of Gilbert Baron Jobson and Federal Investors limited in the said lands to Rudyard Stephens and deliver same to Exley Ho."

The AG was also ordered by the court to take all necessary steps within its power to ensure that Ho be presented with the land title for the parcel of land. But to date, Ho is not in possession of the title.

Ho was ordered to pay the stamp duty on the transfer of the certificate of sale; the transfer tax on the certificate of sale; any penalties due; the registration fees on the transfer or certificate of sale and the land taxes due to the date of possession.

Stephens was ordered by the court to pay the AG the outstanding purchase money, half costs of the transfer fees and other sums properly due, on behalf of Federal Investors.

Stephens appealed the judgement and took the matter to the United Kingdom Privy Council, which upheld the Supreme Court ruling and dismissed his appeal on July 22, 1992.

Now, 20 years after that Privy Council ruling, nothing has been done to settle the contentious issue by the AG.

Two Fridays ago, attorneys representing Worman Ltd secured an injunction from Justice Lloyd Pusey barring Baron Stephens from doing anything more to stop them from from using the property.

Both parties claim to have legitimate lease agreements to the property.

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