Guernsey Press

Court of appeal overturns Bailiff’s decision on car park

THE long-running dispute over who controls a car park at Cobo is set to continue after the court of appeal overturned a decision of the Bailiff.

Cobo car park has been the subject of a long-running dispute over who oversees the land. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28164702)

The disputed land in question runs northward alongside La Rue de la Saline from and including the car park next to Iceland.

The case relates to a decision by the Constables of the Castel to get the southern section of the car park tarmaced.

The work was done 10 years ago this month. [April 2010]A. W. Holdings Corp, which claims to own the land, launched proceedings against the constables for trespass.

A key feature of the case is the system of feudal land tenure – the history of land organisation in Guernsey dating back to the 11th century.

In March last year, presiding in the Royal Court, Bailiff Sir Richard Collas ruled that the land made up part of Fief Michel.

But the Guernsey Court of Appeal upheld A. W. Holdings Corp’s contention that it was in fact part of Fief de Carteret and remitted all outstanding parts of the plaintiff’s claim back to the Royal Court for consideration in light of its decision.

The Constables of the Castel said they were disappointed at the Court of Appeal’s decision, not for themselves as they had no vested interest in the property but rather for parishioners and the general public of Guernsey who regularly use the car park.

Senior constable Jon Beausire said they would abide by decisions of the Guernsey courts and act accordingly.

They were concerned though that, far from finally determining and clarifying the long-standing issues in relation to the car park, the Court of Appeal’s judgment left the situation uncertain from a practical perspective.

‘It is unclear what use AW Holdings Corp can make of the car park given the Court of Appeal noted that it was held to be common land; that is, subject to rights for community use in particular ways,’ he said.

That point was not disputed and it was not simply land in private ownership, which would allow its owner to exclude the public.

‘We believe that this reflects the statement made by the former Dame of the Fief de Carteret in 1982 (within which fief the Court of Appeal has found the car park lies) in which she stated: “I don’t own [the car park], it is common land belonging to the people of the parish’’,’ said Mr Beausire.

The constables were currently considering the practical implications of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and the options that may be available.

They were also conscious that the matter has not yet been determined in total, as the Court of Appeal has sent the matter back down to the Royal Court to determine the balance of AW Holdings Corp’s claim.

‘Accordingly, it may be some time until any real clarity is given in relation to the car park, particularly if the Court of Appeal’s judgment is further appealed to the Privy Council.’

It is understood that the parties have 56 days in which to lodge any appeal.