High Court judge Justice Brian Cottle has ruled in favour of the respondents and has struck out the two election petitions filed by the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
“It must be recalled that the jurisdiction of an election court is a very narrow one,” he said in his ruling, handed down on Thursday.
The judge cited the case of Sabga v. Solomon (1963) in which the petitioners sought to provide security by way of a cheque but the statute required money.
In that case, the petition was struck out because the petitioner failed to comply with the strict requirement to provide money as security for cost, not as cheque, he noted.
“In the present case, the petitioners were obligated to provide sureties. The recognisances provided by the petitioner revealed no sureties — only the petitioners themselves stood as surety,” Cottle said in the 15-page ruling.
“The absence of the sureties as required is fatal. The petitions are void and nullities and consequently struck out for this reason,” Cottle ruled.
“The petitioners will pay the respondents’ costs to be assessed if not agreed,” the judge further ordered.
The NDP was asking the High Court to overturn the result of the Dec. 9, 2015 elections in Central Leeward and North Windward by declaring their candidates, Ben Exeter and Lauron Baptiste winners of the seats or ordering fresh elections.
Those two districts were among the eight that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) won to gain a four consecutive term in office.
Electoral officials say they were won by the ULP’s Louis Straker and Montgomery Daniel.
The remaining seven seats in the 15-member Parliament went to the NDP.
The government had asked the court to throw out the petitions, claiming that they were improperly filed.
But the during an April 4 judgement, based on arguments presented in chambers on March 4, Cottle had said that the government’s application was “premature”.
He, however, added that the government was bound to succeed if the arguments were presented in open court at the beginning of a trial.
The government’s lawyers presented the arguments in court last week Thursday, at which time counsel for the petitions argued that the new application was vexatious because the responded had not discontinued their application of March 4.
Both sides have told the media that they would appeal if the latest judgement did not go in their favour.