Supreme Court refuses NWC application
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
The Supreme Court has refused an application by the National Water Commission, (NWC), to strike out the defence of two hotels so it can recover $64 million allegedly owed.
The NWC is contending that Rios Hotel Management Ltd and Sandals Ocho Rios Ltd owes the commission for water treatment.
Supreme Court Judge Bertram Morrison ordered that the case must go for a hearing.
Justice Morrison said he was being asked to engage in a mini trial which based on legal authority he was expressly forbidden to do.
The defendants are denying that they owe any money to the NWC as they have their own water treatment plant.
NWC was seeking to strike out the defence as it disclosed no reasonable grounds for defending the claim.
The NWC is claiming $64 million with interest for unpaid sewage charges levied against the defendants.
The defendants who were represented by attorney-at-law Hugh Small instructed by the law firm Patterson Mair Hamilton opposed the application on the grounds that the NWC had no legal authority to bill the defendants.
The NWC is claiming that the hotels are its customers and on November 29, 2012 it sent a letter notifying them of the outstanding arrears for sewage registered on their properties.
According to an amended claim form filed in 2013, the NWC said it is empowered to charge any customer within 100 yards of its sewerage system routes whether they are connected.
The hotels are situated within 100 yards of the NWC's systems.
In response to the claim the hotels said a public road separates the two properties but both properties are operated together as a hotel known as Sandal Grande Ocho Rios.
They claim that water is supplied from two wells situated at Upton in the parish of St Ann that are not owned, operated or controlled by the NWC.
And they say the wastewater and sewage generated by the operation of the hotel is not connected to the NWC’s sewage line and the attempt by the NWC to imposes charges is illegal.
Justice Morrison in dismissing NWC's application said the ultimate question was whether or not each defendant has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim or issue.
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