Lawyers representing Ocean Pelican owner Adrian Scoon have said the Customs and Excise Division has no power to void Scoon’s Special Restaurant Licence.
Scoon found himself at the centre of a controversy after police shut down an event aboard the Ocean Pelican vessel on Boxing Day and arrested approximately 100 patriots.
In his defence, Scoon released documentation that he believed proved that his boat and its activities had not violated the public health regulations that are currently in place. One of these documents included a special restaurant licence issued by the Customs and Exise Division. His attorneys also released a request written to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh claiming that Scoon had been given advice on the matter by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi prior to the event. A response from the Minister of Health was also released.
Scoon’s mother, Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon and Al-Rawi have since distanced themselves from the matter. Deyalsingh has said the the matter is now before the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the police. Al-Rawi and Deyalsingh have both said they have no jurisdiction in the matter.
On Friday Minister of Finance Colm Imbert denied approving any Special Licence for the Ocean Pelican under the Liquor Licences Act. In a release, he said, “These licences have since been deemed by the Customs and Excise Division to be null and void as no directions for the issuance of same was given by the Minister of Finance.”
Imbert said the licence was done without his approval.
In response, Scoon’s attorney-at-law Kiel Taklalsingh said Customs and Excise Division acted unlawfully in attempting to rescind the special restaurant licence and only the High Court could make such a declaration.
Taklalsingh sustained “any and all instruments in my client’s possession remain validly subsisting unless set aside by the High Court.”
Taklalsingh called on acting comptroller of Customs and Excise Bernard Nicholas to explain what happened differently on this occasion since Scoon had been issued such licences not only in 2021 but in 2020, 2019 and other previous years.
“It is, therefore, irrational that you now purport to assert that these licences, which have been historically issued to my client, are null and void only in 2021.
“We remind you that our client applied for the renewal of his licence and was granted Special Licence No 28 of 2021/ Special Restaurant Licence 48930. From the content of your letter, it seems that you have suddenly formed the opinion, without explanation, that those licences “were not issued in accordance with the said section.”
“In the absence of any explanation, or some justifiable reason, your decision to suddenly treat our client’s licence as null and void is arbitrary, unfair and unreasonable. The unfortunate effect of your letter is to jeopardise my client’s commercial activities (already planned), potentially cause him economic loss and possibly tarnish his good reputation.”
Customs and Excise Division was given 48 hours to rescind its decision or further action will follow.