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J. Wray & Nephew gets expedited hearing to challenge Algix injunction

Published:Wednesday | February 17, 2016 | 8:54 PM

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

A Court of Appeal judge today granted an expedited hearing to J. Wray & Nephew Limited to challenge an injunction placed on the company.

The order bars the company's sugar factory, Appleton Estates in St Elizabeth from discharging effluent that does not meet trade standards into two rivers in the parish pending the resolution of a lawsuit filed by fish producer, Algix Jamaica Limited.

Justice Hilary Phillips heard submission in chambers today and granted the application for the expedited appeal hearing.

The hearing has been set for February 29 and is to continue for that week.

Last month Algix obtained an injunction against the company.

Algix had argued that effluent from Appleton Estates was entering its fish farm and that this was affecting its business.

Algix is seeking compensation from J. Wray & Nephew.

Operations at Appleton have been on hold as a result of injunction.

In chambers today, the attorneys for J. Wray & Nephew argued that because of the injunction, the company has been unable to continue operation at Appleton Estates to process sugar cane and sugar.

They further argued that the company is unable to discharge cane waste in its treatment system into the Black River in St. Elizabeth, which they noted is a necessary part of the sugar production process.

The attorneys submitted that the inability to operate Appleton Estates affected hundreds of employees as well a cane cutters and haulage contractors.

They argued that the company produces 22 percent of the national target for the export of sugar and the closure of the factory will be disastrous to the entire industry especially because Appleton Estates process sugar cane for other factories.

The attorneys said if the injunction is not lifted, there will be loss of jobs and the country will not be able to meet its sugar export targets for 2016.

At the time the injunction was granted, Appleton was discharging trade effluent from its cane washing activities pursuant to a permit issued on August 12, 2013 by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act.

As a condition of the permit, the company was placed on a plan by NEPA, which was intended to bring it into compliance on a phased basis towards the particular standards in the Natural Resources Conservation (Wastewater and Sludge) Regulations 2013 and/or other standards which NEPA is permitted to impose in respect of specific permits under the regulations.

The injunction granted by Justice David Batts compels the Appleton to immediately comply with the standards.

But the company is arguing that it will be impossible to immediately effect all the transitional arrangements contemplated and agreed with NEPA.