Marina development works outside Beachaven have been forced to stop for now, after a judge upheld an injunction filed by the Xemxija nightclub’s owners.
In a ruling today, Judge Robert Mangion ruled that Godwin Cutajar’s request satisfied all the legal requirements.
Represented by lawyer Alex Scerri Herrera, Cutajar took legal action after Transport Malta formally informed mariners in February that works will soon commence on an organised mooring area and associated fairway in Xemxija Bay.
Beachaven is arguing that the works are illegal because they are taking place by virtue of a tender that Transport Malta had revoked several years ago.
Back in 2009, the Malta Maritime Authority (which would later become Transport Malta) issued a tender for the management and operation of organised mooring areas for pleasure yachts in Xemxija Bay.
Beachaven owner Godwin Cutajar and Gozo-based Harbour Management Ltd both applied and the contract was awarded to the latter.
However, the transport authority later informed the tender winner that its proposed mooring tariff rates were too expensive and gave Cutajar temporary permission to operate a morning system for boats in summer 2010.
In 2011, Transport Malta informed Harbour Management Ltd that it had cancelled the entire tender process and returned the winning tenderer’s bid bond to them by post, prompting the tenderer to launch court proceedings.
Court proceedings dragged for years, until Harbour Management Ltd and Transport Malta reached an out-of-court settlement deal in November 2020, which allowed the tenderer to finally commence works.
Through this agreement, Transport Malta and Harbour Management Ltd also agreed to liaise with and assist each other with regards to any third-party legal claims in connection with the mooring facility deal.
Transport Malta also agreed to keep the operator harmless with respect to any such third-party claims received, requests made or “pretentions vaunted”.
However, Cutajar is arguing that once Transport Malta revoked the tender, it should have issued an entirely new tender rather than reaching a deal with the original winner.
The transport authority argued against an injunction on the grounds that Cutajar can be remedied through financial compensation, but Judge Mangion pointed out that the Beachaven owner wasn’t seeking compensation or for the concession to be handed over to him.
Judge Mangion’s decision does not establish whether Cutajar’s legal argument is correct or not or scrap the concession agreement, but it does establish that the Beachaven owner had every right to call for an injunction.