Woman Convicted for Failing to Register as a Developer

Nerris Hawthorne was found guilty in the Hanover Parish Court for the offence of failing to register as a developer contrary to Section 35(7) of the Real Estate (Dealers and Developers) Act (REDDA).  The decision was handed down by Senior Parish Judge Nateisha Fairclough-Hylton on Monday December 12, 2022.

The complainant in the case initially made a report to the Real Estate Board in January 2019.  In her complaint, she claimed that in March 2008 she entered into an agreement with Miss Hawthorne for the sale of a subdivision located at Lot 238 Haughton Court, Hanover.  She further claimed that a deposit was made in the sum of $US125,000 for said property. 

Based on the complaint, an Inspector of the Board wrote to Miss Hawthorne and outlined the nature of the breach.  She was advised to register the development with the Board and the necessary list of requirements provided on two separate occasions.  She was also advised in-person, regarding Section 35 of the REDDA, which requires that, “every person who proposes to carry out any development under a development scheme to which this section applies shall before commencing such development apply to the Board.” 

Based on the enquiries made the Board, the matter was handed over to the police at the Counter Terrorism and Organized Crime Investigation Branch (CTOC) on May 5, 2021 for further investigation. Their investigations led to Miss Hawthorne being charged with the offence of failing to register as a developer, as well as entering into prepayment contract without being a registered developer. Section 26 (1) of the REDDA prohibits persons not registered as a real estate developer, from entering into a pre-payment contract. Under the REDDA, this is where monies are paid or are payable to the vendor/developer where at the time of entering into it, the vendor/developer has obligations to be performed or discharged in respect of building roads or carrying out engineering or other operations in the development or where construction of the units/lots in the development remain incomplete. 
The matter was first mentioned in the Hanover Parish Court on February 15, 2022, where the accused pleaded not guilty to both charges.  In the trial, the Crown presented evidence from representatives from the Real Estate Board, National Land Agency, The Hanover Municipal Corporation, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and one of the purchasers.       

In her ruling, the Senior Parish Judge however ruled that the Crown did not present sufficient evidence to establish the agreement between Miss Nerris Hawthorne and the complainant, as a pre-payment contract.                

The Board is again using this opportunity to remind persons to make application for registration as a developer, where the number of lots or units being developed exceed five, or where they are doing more than one development of whatever size. over a 24-month period. Secondly, the public is reminded to check with the Real Estate Board, whether by phone, email or visiting its website, to confirm if a particular developer and/or the development is registered.                .

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