Opposition parliamentarians tell High Court they are not ready for trial

Photo: Lord Peter Goldsmith

Six opposition parliamentarians Thursday indicated they were not ready for a court hearing related to the Motion of No Confidence filed with the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, thus delaying debate in the lawmaking body.

In fact, the opposition, which last week filed a Notice of Discontinuance with the Court, had not even complied with directions given by his Lordship Mr. Justice Errol Thomas during a hearing last April.


"This morning (Thursday), we came before the judge on a hearing that was fixed over two months ago to hear our applications to strike out the claim. At the very end of last week, the Claimants (Hon. Mark Brantley, Hon. Vance Amory, Hon. Shawn Richards, Hon. Eugene Hamilton, Hon. Timothy Harris and Hon. Sam Condor) suddenly served a notice to discontinue the proceedings; they gave no explanation, they gave no apology and they failed to comply with the court’s orders to serve evidence and to serve submissions," said Lord Peter Goldsmith in a statement following the request by the opposition’s attorney, Mr. Vincent Byron, Jr.

Lord Goldsmith said lawyers representing the government entities including the Speaker, the Hon. Curtis Martin were ready Thursday morning to deal with that and "to deal with our original motion and also to deal with a new motion that we brought, saying that they (Opposition) weren’t entitled to discontinue the claim in that way; they (Opposition) weren’t entitled to sidestep the court’s jurisdiction by the simple expedient by serving a Notice of Discontinuance."

"I think it is important to understand and I am not sure that this was known until I mentioned it in Court, that on Monday of this week, having received this Notice of Discontinuance, the Attorney General’s Chambers wrote to the Claimant’s (Opposition) Solicitors saying, ‘will you please agree that your case can be dismissed, that the Court can make the declarations that we sought and that it didn’t have jurisdiction to deal with that sort of claim and the importance of that is, it would have made it clear that the Claimants couldn’t just start this whole process all over again," stated Lord Goldsmith.

But Lord Goldsmith said that the Claimants (Opposition) didn’t respond to that letter.

"They didn’t even acknowledge that letter. So we don’t know what their plan is, particularly as they have produced a new notice of motion which is very hard to see the difference between that one and the old one," he said.

He said that the defendants and the Government deserve to be protected against the sought of device in which this claim is stopped, but yet another claim can be started all over again.

"That’s what we wanted the Court to deal with and it could have been dealt with very easily by them simply responding properly to the letter we had sent them. However they chose not to do so, instead of which they turned up and said they were not ready to argue the case, they asked for an adjournment," said Lord Goldsmith.

He added that it would not be right to deny them that adjournment because these are important matters and if they need time to deal with them, they should have that time.

"So we are now in a situation, where the Judge have said in response to their application, yes it can be adjourned to a later date and we will now have to set a date for that next hearing," said Lord Goldsmith.

He said Justice Thomas has set directions when they have to serve evidence, when they have to serve submissions, as well as when "we have to serve our evidence and submissions so the matter can be properly determined by the court."