Landmark constitutional case begins

Landmark constitutional case begins

The public may have the opportunity to follow online when a potentially landmark high court case resumes virtually next Friday.

And unlike the challenge to the calling of elections, this case objecting to the convening of Parliament could drag on for weeks.

Opening submissions began this (Friday) morning at the Supreme Court complex in the case in which former Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, through his attorneys Garth Patterson and Michelle Russell, is contending that Parliament has been convened at a time when the Senate, has not been constituted in accordance with section 36 of the Constitution.

The state, in the person of the Attorney General, who is named as the respondent, is represented by a high-powered list of lawyers including Leslie Haynes, Roger Forde, Alrick Scott, Gregory Nicholls, Simone Scott, Kashaun Wood, and the firm Carrington and Sealy.

Madame Justice Cicely Chase is hearing the case.

She noted the case is a national matter and the public will be following closely. She ruled it will be held virtually.

This follows Mr. Patterson imploring the judge to shift from in person to online hearings.

He alleged that there was a case of exposure to covid-19 during the first sitting of the new Parliament last week.

He noted that he has co-morbidities and said he doesn’t feel the hearing should continue in person.

Mr. Patterson opened his submissions by trying to first carefully establish that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter

He argued that it falls under application for judicial review as it contains claims that relate to the administration of justice act.

Mr. Patterson termed it a national controversy a term to which state attorney Leslie Haynes strongly objected accusing Mr. Patterson of using the term simply to garner media headlines.

As to his submissions: Mr. Patterson argues that there is no properly constituted Senate and therefore there is no properly constituted Parliament and the business of the Senate and House cannot continue until the Senate is properly constituted – the question being whether  the Senate has the constitutional power to act while only 18 senators are appointed.

Mr. Patterson also contends that the matter of whether or not the Senate is properly constituted must be resolved before the Senate can conduct business.

He argues that the responsible thing to do is to put Parliament on hold until the court can rule on these matters which he calls the lifeblood of the constitutional power to act.

He says that while he will not ask for an injunction, he believes government should do the right thing and pause Parliament until the court says otherwise.

The state is to submit affidavits by next Friday, February the 18 and written submissions the following Friday, February 25th.
Government sources indicate the House of Assembly will continue to meet despite the ongoing legal challenge.


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