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Court quashes Chang’s revocation of businessman’s gun licence

Published:Wednesday | February 8, 2023 | 1:37 AM
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang.
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang.

The Judicial Review Court has quashed the decision of Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang to revoke the firearm licence of a Kingston warehouse supervisor and has remitted the matter to the Review Board for a hearing. The court declared...

The Judicial Review Court has quashed the decision of Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang to revoke the firearm licence of a Kingston warehouse supervisor and has remitted the matter to the Review Board for a hearing.

The court declared last month that the failure of the Review Board to hold a hearing was in breach of the Firearms Act. Therefore, its recommendation to the minister of national security was illegal, null, and void and of no legal effect.

The claimant’s licence was revoked by the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) in February 2019. The claimant was charged in 2015 with possession of ganja, dealing in ganja, attempting to export ganja, and conspiracy to export ganja. He said he was successful in renewing his licence three times after the charges were laid.

The FLA conducted investigations and revoked his licence in 2019 on the basis that he was not a fit and proper person to retain a licence.

He was freed of the charges in October 2019 after the prosecution failed to establish a case against him.

The claimant, who was represented by attorneys-at-law Pierre Rogers and Monique McLeod, contended that the Review Board failed to conduct a hearing within the statutory time of 90 days and instead took more than 18 months to consider his application for an appeal.

It was also argued that the Review Board failed to advise him of the details of the allegations and failed to give him an opportunity to respond to the claims.

Attorney-at-law Courtney Foster, who represented the FLA, submitted that the claimant was given an opportunity to be heard when the FLA asked him to give a statement. She argued that the FLA operated within the law by revoking the licence solely on the adverse report against the claimant.

The court agreed with Foster that there was no duty to provide reasons and/or conduct a hearing at the time the FLA made the decision to revoke the licence.

Justice Sonya Wint-Blair granted declarations that the decision arrived at by the minister to revoke the claimant’s firearm user’s licence was in breach of the Firearms Act and ultra vires. The minister’s decision to affirm the recommendation to revoke the licence was declared to be irrational.

The court also ruled that the proceedings to uphold the decision of the FLA to revoke the licence issued to the claimant were in breach of the principles of natural justice.

In quashing the revocation, the court ordered the minister to remit the claimant’s application to the Review Board for a hearing at which the claimant or his legal representative may be present. The court ordered the Review Board to give detailed reasons to the claimant for the allegations made against him to facilitate his representation on review as well as the date for the hearing.

The Review Board must submit its recommendation to the minister within 90 days of the receipt of the matter, the court ordered.

Attorney-at-law Faith Hall, instructed by the director of state proceedings, represented the Review Board and the minister.

– Barbara Gayle