Grynberg Mess: Does Martinus have the answer?

 fifty years ago, everyone, including people of color, referred to any hidden factor trying to prevent their success as “the nigger in the woodpile.” The age of political correctness put an end to that. Today, to speak the line or to write it is to invite invectives from friends and neighbors, to risk getting fired from your job—if not an appearance before a court of law on charges related to hate crimes.
Of course, we have the recently minted (somewhat hypocritical) “N-word.” But then would it make any sense, while discussing, say, the latest chapter in the Grynberg potboiler, to refer to Stephenson King or Kenny Anthony or Earl Huntley—or, for that matter, Jack Grynberg—as “the N-word in the woodpile?”
I should add that “the nigger in the woodpile” did not always refer to animate objects. Often it related to “some undisclosed fact of considerable importance, something suspicious or wrong.”
So much for words whitewashed for the pretentious purposes of political correctness. The latest on Grynberg centers on RSM Production Corporation’s contention that the government of Saint Lucia is in breach of their contract signed by the current prime minister in 2000, on behalf of the people of Saint Lucia, whether or not they knew it at the time.
According to a press release from the prime minister’s office last week: “By letter dated April 10, 2008 the King government took the position that the agreement had expired and Saint Lucia has subsequently reportedly taken steps to put the agreement area, which RSM has the right to explore, to competitive bidding. By claiming the agreement has expired and by threatening to place exploration rights in the subject area out to competitive bidding, Saint Lucia has breached the agreement.”
Enter attorney Martinus Francois, whose expressed “main interest” in the matter is to “spare the Saint Lucian taxpayer the crippling cost of defending the nation’s good name before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes.”  He also points to the fact that before RSM’s case against Grenada was settled by the ICSID in 2000, Grynberg had demanded a settlement of some US$500,000. In the end, control of the Grenada seabed was returned to the government, but only after agreeing to pay costs amounting to over $10 million. “And that was more than ten years ago,” said Francois.
His rescue plan is to initiate a judicial review of the details of RSM’s contract, especially where it concerns his exploration license. “If, as it appears, the prime minister issued the company a license to explore for oil in Saint Lucia, then he acted ultra vires our Minerals (Vesting) Act, which clearly states: ‘A person shall not prospect for or mine any minerals except by authority of a license granted by the governor general and in accordance with the terms and conditions specified in the license.’ The law could not be clearer.”
Francois is of the opinion that a judicial review would have “no other choice but to declare RSM’s license null and void, which would then put an end to Grynberg’s suit.”
But how correct is Francois? Already the usual self-appointed defenders of the government are suggesting publicly that Saint Lucia’s Interpretation Act authorizes the prime minister to sign any document that ordinarily might be signed by the governor general.
In support of their position, they have cited Section 42 of the Act, where at Subsection 1 it states: “Where a function of the governor general under an enactment is to be exercised in accordance with the advice of Cabinet, any instrument required to be issued in the exercise of that function, other than a proclamation, warrant or instrument to be issued under the Public Seal, may be signified under the hand of the secretary of the Cabinet, and such signification is sufficient for all purposes.”
Moreover: “Where a function of the governor general under any enactment is to be exercised in accordance with the advice of a minister acting under the general authority of the cabinet, any instrument required to be issued in the exercise of that function, other than a proclamation, warrant or instrument to be issued under the Public Seal may be signified under the hand of the minister acting under the general authority of the cabinet and such signification is sufficient for all purposes.”
So does anything in the above authorize a minister of government to issue exploration licenses—contrary to the directives of Section 4 (1) of the Minerals (Vesting) Act? And if a judicial review of RSM’s exploration license should find the
prime minister acted in conflict with the law, would that in effect render the license invalid before an international court? More on that next time!

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