The Next Generation
Hugh Hart was born on December 26, 1929, in St. Andrew, Jamaica, the son of Clinton Hart and Eily deCordova-Hart. He entered Munro College in 1940, was placed in Coke House, and installed in the Baby Dorm under the care of Miss Lucy. Munro by then was a Hart family tradition, as Hugh was preceded by his father, uncle, and grandfather before him, and started Munro just one year ahead of his cousin and fellow inductee Tony, who was also following his father Allan’s footsteps.
Hugh made good use of Munro in both academics and sports. In 1945 he got a Grade II in Senior Cambridge examinations, with a distinction in English Literature, and in the Higher Schools Certificate examinations in 1947, he got distinctions for History, English, Latin, and Geography.
He still enjoys golf and follows horseracing, and his love of sports no doubt has its roots in the fact that at Munro he was an outstanding all round athlete. He represented Munro and gained school colours in football, cricket, hockey, tennis, rifle shooting and athletics. Like his father Clinton before him, who won in 1919, he was an Olivier Shield winner in 1945, and played on that team with fellow inductee “Lindy” Delapenha. As Delapenha’s teammate, he helped Munro win Boys Champs in 1945, and did so again in 1947 with a team that included fellow inductee Alfred Sangster. Also in 1947, he teamed up with Sangster again to bring home the Alexander Cup in tennis.
He recalls his Munro days with appreciation and joy. Two influences that stand out for him are sports master KWB Dunleavy, and Rev. A. G. “Sandy” Frazer, the liberal headmaster of modern Munro. Frazer had a pervasive Christian influence on the school. He also taught Math and kept the boys updated on the progress of the Second World War. Dunleavy was a disciplinarian who every boy first feared and hated, then respected and loved. He was responsible for all games, and taught Geography throughout the school with excellent results.
Hugh Hart attended The Queens College, Oxford, and there obtained his Masters in Law while representing the college in cricket, hockey, and tennis. He was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn, England, in 1953, and admitted as a solicitor in Jamaica in 1956.
He married Pamela Seaga in 1977, and together they have raised Justin and Belinda, attorney and business-woman respectively. Subsequent to his Hall of Fame nomination, Mr. Hart lost his life partner, and the condolences of the Munro College Old Boys Association – and the entire extended family of Munro College – go out to him and his family.
A founding partner of the Law firm Hart Muirhead Fatta, he was named one of the leading commercial lawyers in Jamaica by the renowned Chambers Global List, and by the International Financial Law Review. His expertise is in commercial law, corporate finance, and conveyancing, which enables him to develop his passion for innovative residential and commercial real estate development. He has been a director of property development companies in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands for over thirty years.
He is director and former Chairman of Jamaica Flour Mills limited, and was also Chairman of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, Carreras Group Limited, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, and the Bauxite & Alumina Trading Company Limited. He has served on various other Boards in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
He served as Senator in the Jamaican Parliament from 1980 to 1993. He was Minister of Mining and Energy from 1983-1989, and also Minister of Tourism from 1984-1989. He had his challenges in Tourism and Energy, but it was in Mining that Hugh Hart faced a baptism of fire that could have brought country to its knees, and him along with it. Thanks partially to the after-effects of a global recession, the alumina market had gone soft, and after Reynolds Mines closed bauxite operations in 1984, Alcoa and Alpart followed soon after. This left Alcan standing alone, the industry in chaos, and what was then the lifeline of the economy in jeopardy.
Along with then Prime Minister and his brother-in-law, Edward Seaga, aided by technocrats like Dr. Carlton Davis, Hart introduced a series of unprecedented measures to keep the industry, and by extension, the economy, alive. A delegation went to the oval office of then US President Ronald Reagan, and in the middle of a soft market, the US General Service Administration (GSA), was persuaded to buy 3.6 million tonnes of Jamaican bauxite for the US strategic stockpile. This moved annual local production to 6.5 million tonnes after it had crashed to a low of 2.9 million tonnes in 1985.
GSA was also talked into bartering American grain for a further 2 million tonnes of Jamaican bauxite, and having gotten the hang of international bartering, Hart then bartered bauxite with the Soviet Union for an avalanche of Soviet-made Lada motor cars, which lasted well into the 90’s. The Alcoa plant had been closed with only 20 days’ notice, and the decision was also taken to have the government take over the plant on lease and operate it themselves. Happy to have their jobs saved, the workers increased efficiency and moved production from 40 to 60 thousand tonnes per month, and Hart persuaded global commodity trader Marc Rich to purchase the entire output of the plant for two consecutive years.
After yet another global recession, Jamaica’s bauxite industry awaits yet another resurrection, but Hugh Hart is one of the reasons why there is still something there to resurrect. After all that stress, the high-stakes world of international corporate law must seem a breeze, and so there Hugh Hart has continued to excel.
In 2011, he was awarded the Order of Jamaica for service to the bauxite and alumina industry and the legal profession, and in 2013, he was honoured by the Jamaica Bar Association. For these and other reasons, the Hon. Hugh Cecil Edmund Hart, OJ, was proudly inducted into the Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame.