Press Statement By The New Democratic Party On Elections Petitions.
Since the general elections of 9th December, the passage through the courts of two petitions complaining of misconduct of the elections in Central Leeward and North Windward has captivated the national attention. On the 23rd June, Justice Brian Cottle essentially threw out those petitions without hearing any of the evidence, because the court concluded that the document giving security for costs was not properly signed.
The NDP has appealed that judgment.
Queen’s Counsel Bertram Commissiong, who is here today, will shed more light on the filing of the appeal and what follows from there. Also Mr Keith Scotland, another NDP lawyer with whom you are all familiar is here in St. Vincent on a separate matter and he will be attending today’s conference if he has a break from court.
Nonetheless, the appeal will NOT be heard this week while the Court of Appeal sits in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This is the direct result of three things:
1. the time it took to thoroughly prepare the appeal, which was nonetheless filed ON TIME;
2. the time it took for the Court Office to prepare the transcripts; and
3. the time it took before our team received the transcripts after they were prepared
The Appeal was filed the 3rd August, yet the transcripts were not received by our lawyers until the 8th September.
I have heard the comments by Dr Gonsalves and Senior Counsel Astaphan over the last three days. They suggest that even though the transcripts were received late, the record, which must include the transcripts, ought to have been prepared and somehow the appeal would have been heard this week. That is NOT the case. The transcripts were received on September 8th 2016, the very day the Court put out the preliminary list of matters to be heard by the Court of Appeal this week. As a result, our appeals could not have made even the preliminary list of matters.
But I say to you St. Vincent and the Grenadines, have heart. The Court of Appeal will be sitting as many as four more times over the next two months. We can and will have our justice:
i. the 10th to 14th October in St. Kitts Nevis
ii. the 24th to 28th October in Antigua & Barbuda
iii. the 7th to 11th November in Dominica; or
iv. the 21st to 25th November in BVI
The court is even sitting the 5th to 9th December in Grenada.
The Vincentian electorate will NOT be denied justice. Our appeals will be heard shortly.