Appeals Court ruling no victory – James
March 10, 2017

Appeals Court ruling no victory – James

The ruling of the Appeals Court in favour of the New Democratic Party (NDP) cannot be viewed as a legal victory.

This is the view of Carlos James, attorney for Sir Louis Straker and Montgomery Daniel, the second respondents in the election petitions filed by the NDP, which seek to overturn the results of the general elections of December 9, 2015 in the Central Leeward and North Windward constituencies.

“It is not a legal victory in the sense that the Opposition has won the petition cases. It is important to establish that the ruling was on a preliminary issue. So, the case has been remitted to the High Court for hearing before a different judge.

“We are still of the view that the petitions, based on the error in the recognizance (sureties) are incurable. We are of the view that the application to strike out will in fact succeed on the second hearing,” said James, who himself was a candidate for the governing Unity Labour Party in the North Leeward constituency in the December 2015 elections.

On March 7, the Appeals Court said there was the appearance of bias on the part of High Court judge Brian Cottle, who had ruled in June 2016 that the petitions be struck out.

Commenting after the ruling on Tuesday, attorney for the respondents Anthony Astaphan said: “We are unfortunately and regrettably back to square one, where we now have to go back to another judge to argue largely the same issues, all over again, to decide whether the petitions should be struck out….We have to start the process all over again.”

Saying he was “extremely disappointed,” Astaphan added that he did not expect the case to turn out the way it did.

“Whatever you may wish to say about Justice Cottle’s statements, everybody knew he had made them; everybody proceeded to the hearings, everybody made submissions, everybody waited on the judgment without objection and it is only when the notice of appeal was filed, we saw for the first time, the question of bias,” the lawyer said.