A Court of Appeal judge has granted a stay of execution of High Court judge Justice Esco Henry’s March 13 decision in the vaccine mandate case.
Justice Henry ruled that the public sector workers dismissed under the government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which came into effect in December 2021, never ceased to hold their jobs.
She ordered the government to pay them all wages and benefits they would have received had it not been for the government’s decision to terminate them.
The judge further ordered that the government pay punitive damages.
The government appealed the decision of the court and applied for a stay of execution of the order, which acting Justice of Appeal Paul Webster considered on Tuesday.
In a decision on Tuesday, handed down today, the justice of appeal said that on reading the papers submitted in support and against the stay of execution, the court was satisfied that the government has reasonable prospects of success on appeal, that there is cogent evidence that the appeal will be rendered nugatory unless a stay is granted, and that the appeal concerns matters of public importance.
“And upon the court considering all of the circumstances of the case and determining that the applicants have met the threshold for the grant of a stay of execution, the application for a stay of the judgment and order of Esco Henry J delivered on 13th March 2023 pending the hearing and determination of the appeal is granted,” the justice of appeal said.
The judge noted that in coming to its decision, the court must consider all the circumstances of the case including the strength of the appeal, the balance of harm by the grant or refusal of a stay, and whether the appeal will be stifled or rendered nugatory unless a stay is granted.
This week, Jomo Thomas, a lawyer for the workers in the case, said that his team would push for a speedy hearing if the stay of execution was granted.
“And hopefully we can get it heard by July because that’s the next time that the court returns to St. Vincent,” Thomas said.
“What we don’t want is for the government to get a stay and then for them to engage in some kind of stalling tactics to pressure the workers into, to browbeat the workers, to stonewall the workers into applying, reapplying for a job by the mere economic pressure that would come down on them,” the lawyer further states.