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Case details

Energizer Supermarket Ltd (Appellant) v Holiday Snacks Ltd (Respondents) (Trinidad & Tobago)

Case ID: JCPC 2020/0035

Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Case summary

Issue

What is the proper construction of the Trinidad and Tobago Petroleum Act and Regulations? Does the Act allow contractual rights to lay a gas pipe to be granted to parties who do not have a petroleum operations licence? Can property rights be validly granted over gas pipelines?

Facts

By a deed of conveyance made on 12 October 1993, Mr. Sookram Boodhai ("Boodhai") sold certain land to the Appellant, Energizer Supermarket Limited, for the purposes of building and operating a supermarket there. Boodhai is now deceased. By a prior agreement, made on 3 March 1986, Boodhai purported to grant a company called Kiss Baking Company Limited ("Kiss") a right to run a submerged gas pipeline over the same land in exchange for a one-off payment. Kiss constructed the gas pipeline on the land and the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago supplies the gas. In April 1992, Kiss purported to assign its interests and obligations in the gas pipeline to its wholly owned subsidiary, the Respondent, Holiday Snacks Limited. The pipeline supplies natural gas to Holiday Snacks Limited and without the gas, Holiday Snacks might have to cease its operations. The Appellant found out about the gas pipeline in 1994, when a surveyor visited the site.

The Appellant entered into negotiations with Kiss with a view to agreeing that Kiss would pay a certain amount to the Appellant in return for a right of way over the land to maintain the gas pipeline. The negotiations broke down in April 1996 and the Appellant sought the removal of the gas pipeline by Kiss. In 1997, the Appellant’s application for planning permission to build a supermarket on the land was refused because of the presence of the gas pipeline.

The Respondent applied to the High Court for recognition that it had proprietary rights over the land in respect of the gas pipeline. The High Court allowed the claim, holding that the Respondent had a right of way over the land, which had been validly assigned to it by Kiss. The Court of Appeal dismissed the Appellant’s appeal.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Energizer Supermarket Ltd

Respondent(s)

Holiday Snacks Ltd

Appeal

Justices

Lord Briggs, Lord Sales, Lord Leggatt, Lord Burrows, Lady Rose

Hearing start date

15 March 2022

Hearing finish date

15 March 2022