The appeal that the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has filed against the decision of the High Court to dismiss its election petitions as improperly filed, will not be heard this week.
There is much anticipation about the petitions since the decision of the court could decide whether the Ralph Gonsalves Unity Labour Party (ULP) government must call fresh elections.
But a source close to the case tells iWitness News that the appeal will not be heard this week because lawyers for the NDP only received the transcript of the High Court proceedings two weeks ago.
The appellant must include the transcript as part of documents to be submitted to the Court of Appeal.
In addition, the appellant must also give the respondents enough time to respond to their arguments.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in its appellate jurisdiction will sit in St. Vincent this week.
The source told iWitness News that while the appeal will not be heard this week, given its importance, the Court of Appeal might consider hearing in one of the other countries or territories in which will meet over the next few months.
Speaking on the development on Saturday, Gonsalves noted at a town hall meeting in New York, that up to the time he left St. Vincent on Thursday, the record of the appeal had not been lodged.
Gonsalves, a lawyer, said that the records include the judgement, the documents that were before the court, and the transcripts of the proceedings.
“The transcript, not a long transcript because no oral evidence, no word of mouth evidence, was taken because they are inside of affidavits in writing. What would be oral would be what was said between judges and the lawyers. The lawyers’ submissions were in writing,” he said.
“It’s a simple record to prepare. You, the appellant, have to take the lead, work with the Registrar of the High Court and provide the draft record to the respondents so that they could say yes, this record is pretty much in order so we can then proceed.”
He told the town hall meeting that having provided the record, the appellant have to put their submissions in writing and give the other side a chance to respond to those submissions, in writing, so when they go before the three judges of the Court of Appeal, they can hear the matter properly and expeditiously.
The NDP has announced a press conference for Monday, at which the appeals will be discussed, sources tell iWitness News.
In June, High Court judge Justice Brian Cottle ruled in favour of the respondents and struck out the two election petitions filed by the NDP.
The NDP filed the petitions challenging the results of the elections in North Windward and Central Leeward.
They were asking the court to either order fresh elections in those constituencies or declare that the NDP had won in those districts.
If the judge had ruled in favour of the NDP, the government, which has a one-seat majority in the 15-member Parliament, would have fallen.
The government argued that the petitions be struck out as improperly filed.
The judge agreed and said in his ruling: “It must be recalled that the jurisdiction of an election court is a very narrow one,” he said in his ruling.
“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.
“The absence of the sureties as required is fatal. The petitions are void and nullities and consequently struck out for this reason,” Cottle ruled.