SC Astaphan says National Assembly Speaker Martin “is absolutely correct”


Photo: Senior Counsel Mr. Anthony Astaphan

One of the Caribbean’s leading lawyers says the decision by the Speaker of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly to defer debate of an opposition-filed Motion of No Confidence despite discontinuance of the matter in the High Court is "absolutely correct."

" I don’t think it is right for the Members of the Parliament to present a document or what they call a resolution of No Confidence and then go to the High Court of Justice to get orders to compel the Honourable Speaker and others to list the document for debate and vote and when the Speaker then challenges the jurisdiction of the court and files an application to have the claim struck out on very sound jurisprudential and jurisdictional grounds, namely the ambits of his jurisdiction as Speaker," said Senior Counsel, Mr. Anthony Astaphan.

"These are fundamental things of constitutional importance that must be determined by the Court. Now the fact that the Speaker filed his application to strike, means that he himself have triggered the jurisdiction of the court; that triggering the jurisdiction of the Court is totally unaffected by the attempt by the claimants and other members of the Parliament to discontinue their claim," said Mr. Astaphan, adding:

"They took a calculated political risk that if they discontinued the claim the Speaker would be placed in a difficult situation, but he is not."

He said: "The Speaker has been advised in the authority to the view that the fact that you may discontinue

a case, even offer to pay costs, does not affect the right of the party sued when serious issues concerning the public interests have arisen; to have these matters determined by the Courts before they are finally put to rests by the Court."

"Therefore when the Speaker says that he is not prepared to consider these matters until the issues raised by him have been dealt with by the court, he is right and that is what the Speaker has been saying all along."

"That once there are questions affecting my jurisdictions of the Parliament, of the Speaker and of the court, I will not deal with these matters until the issue has been resolved by the court. It is not his doing; he is not the one who went to court, he was the one who had to defend the jurisdictions of the Parliament and of the Speaker of the House by filing an application to strike out."

Senior Counsel Astaphan said: "We will see what happens when the matter comes up before the judge on Wednesday."

"The Speaker has raised several issues; there is authority from the United Kingdom which are of considerable persuasive value to the local court and it says that simply because someone has discontinues a case, or even offer to pay costs, that does not put an end to the jurisdiction to the court because I am entitled to insists on the determination of issues which affect my reputation or that of the public interests."