Chastanet Loses Case in Land Rover Debacle

Monday, Aug 21


 n August 18th 2023, the High Court of Saint Lucia ruled against Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet’s motion for judicial review.

Judicial review is a motion brought about by an individual, asking the Courts to investigate the actions of government agencies. This investigation determines whether or not the actions of the state are illegal. Chastanet petitioned the Court to investigate a decision by Customs and Excise to drop charges against Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Ernest Hilaire. The High Court determined that the Opposition Leader did not have enough evidence to support his claims.

 “The facts speak for themselves,” is all Hilaire had to say following the Court’s decision. The controversy started on 5th November 2020, when Hilaire’s Land Rover Sport was seized by Customs Officers following a directive issued by then Customs Comptroller, Peter Chiquot. In a missive handed to the Castries South MP, “pending inquiry” was marked as the reason for the seizure. The MP later disclosed that Customs was asking for invoices which he said were made already available. In December 2021, the Department and Hilaire rectified the discrepancy, and the charges were dropped.

 Following the dismissal of the case, Chastanet filed an application with the High Court for judicial review on April 5th, 2022. He also asked the court to reinstate the prosecution against the MP. However, the judge noted that “the allegations made by [Chastanet] are indeed very serious allegations, however, it cannot be said…the facts upon which this argument is based can meet the threshold of an arguable case.”

 The Court ordered Chastanet to pay costs to the Customs Department and the Customs Officer added to the suit. The Leader of the Opposition nor the United Workers Parter has not issued a statement regarding the defeat of their claim.