Vanuatu Judge Rules Against Airport Concession Challenge

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Opposition’s case ‘misconceived from the start’: chief justice

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 21, 2013) – The Opposition-sponsored Judicial Review Case No.17 of 2013 concerning the legality of the Vt33 billion [US$349.6 million] international airport concession agreement signed between the Vanuatu Government and a Singaporean company has been struck out.

In an oral judgment delivered late yesterday afternoon, Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek struck out the claims filed by the Leader of Opposition, Ham Lini, as the first applicant and other Opposition MPs as second applicants against the Vanuatu Government.

"The case was misconceived from the start by the applicants’ counsel," the Chief Justice said.

The two issues behind the case were whether the concession agreement is applicable to the Government Contract and Tender Act or the Privately Financed Infrastructure Project Act.

Secondly was whether the prime minister had the authority to sign the agreement on behalf of the Vanuatu Government.

On the first issue the decision sided with the Privately Financed Infrastructure Project Act as presented in the submissions of the Attorney General, Ishmael Kalsakau, acting on behalf of the Government.

In regards to the second issue, Chief Justice said he failed to find any connection between the applicants’ counsel submission on the issue of the prime minister’s authority to sign the agreement and the supported legislations.

Daily Post will carry more details about the decision when the written version of the judgment is issued by the court.

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