Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Appeal Court gives hope to residents in dispute with JPS

Published:Wednesday | July 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer
Citizens of the community Hope Pastures located in St Andrew loses court case to Jamaica Public Service in relation to the decision to change the running of power lines underground to the conventional overhead manner

The Court of Appeal has given residents of Hope Pastures in St Andrew permission to challenge a decision by the Supreme Court that the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) cannot be compelled to provide electricity to their community through underground cables at its expense.

Further, Lord Anthony Gifford, the attorney for the residents, has said that the Court of Appeal has reinstated an injunction that bars JPS from running power lines to the community above ground.

"Round two to David," said longtime Hope Pastures resident Michael Williams in reference to the underdog biblical story of David and Goliath.

The ruling of the appeal court is the latest in the legal battle between the residents and the utility company over how electricity should be provided to their community and who should pay for it.

Close to 100 residents claimed, in a lawsuit filed against JPS, that Parliament, in 1962, signed off on a system that mandated the utility company to provide electricity to their community through an underground system. They claimed, too, that the cost of implementing such a system was included in the purchase price they paid for their homes.

Williams said that the residents decided to take the matter to court after the JPS informed them that the system had become obsolete and estimated that they would need to fork out close to $41 million to replace it.

However, the lawsuit was dismissed by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes in May.

Sykes noted in his ruling that Parliament, in approving the Hope Pastures housing scheme, made it clear that those residents who wanted their electricity supplied through an underground system would have to pay for it.

He indicated, too, that the document that gave effect to the scheme indicated that the cost of implementing the system, as well as other utilities, would have been negotiated with the relevant service providers and paid over after it was collected from residents.