Ocean Terminal lease case pulled

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am

A judicial review into an apparent government decision not to grant a new lease for Ocean Terminal has been abandoned a day after it was revealed that the disputed decision had never, in fact, been made.

Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes in the Court of First Instance accepted an application from Wharf Realty, a division of The Wharf (Holdings) and lessee of the terminal, to discontinue its judicial review application following Thursday's surprise revelation that the government had not yet decided what to do with the site when the lease expires in 2012.

Benjamin Yu SC, for the government, told the court all that had been decided was that Wharf would not be allowed to surrender the lease early and be granted a new 21-year lease in its place.

That decision came about as a result of discussions that followed a 2003 application for renewal of the lease by Wharf, which said it was considering the construction of a London Eye-style giant Ferris wheel at the site. Wharf claimed it was entitled to take advantage of a government policy in place since before the handover that leases such as the one covering the terminal would be renewed for not more than 50 years, with no premium and at an annual rate of 3 per cent of the rateable value.

Given the application was received nine years before the lease's expiry, the government had offered to consider the surrender and regranting of Wharf's present 21-year lease. It was that option the government had finally decided against.

Mr Yu said on Thursday that it was still too early to discuss what the government's requirements for the site might be in 2012.

As a result, the decision Wharf was complaining about had not actually been made.

David Pannick QC, for Wharf, said yesterday that since the government's restatement in court of what the situation regarding the site actually was, there was little point in proceeding any further.

Mr Justice Reyes ordered Wharf to pay the costs of the hearing.