High Court dismisses application to stop Referendum Vote

Grenada High Court, the LIME Building, the Carenage, St George’s

by Linda Straker

The High Court in Grenada has dismissed an application to stop the Referendum which is seeking to amend the country’s 42-year-old Constitution.

Arguments in the matters were heard on Monday evening, and on Tuesday afternoon Justice Wynante Adrien–Roberts in her judgment refused the application which was filed by Valerie Thompson–Duncan through the law firm of Henry, Henry and Bristol. Claudette Joseph of the law firm Amicus Attorneys also represented the claimant.

Thompson–Duncan was taking action against the Alex Phillip, Supervisor of Elections, who was represented in Court by the legal counsels from the Attorney-General’s chamber as well as legal persons from the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC).

Following her ruling, the lawyers for Thompson–Duncan walked out in silence as the media trailed them for comments. James ‘Jimmy’ Bristol who was one of the advocates encouraging persons to vote ‘no’ said that the outcome of the Referendum will determine his next step. A vote in favour of the Constitution changes will see him appealing the judge’s decision.

“What happened in the court today, is that every single point put forward by the claimant through her lawyers, every single one was struck down, and the court had no hesitation in ruling,” said Dr Francis Alexis who was part of the legal team representing the Supervisor of Elections.

“You had adequate publishing of the writs of the Bills, and it was a misconception, and it always was a misconception, to read the requirements of the bills being attached to the Writ in section five section one of the Referendum Act,” he said.

Solicitor-General Dwight Horsford said that team’s success was due to preparation. He said that the judge indicated that failure to comply with the Referendum Act by the Supervisor of Election was not made out in the facts.

“There were no breaches of the Referendum Act,” he said. “The learned judge did not agree with any of the submissions,” he added.

In a news conference following the ruling, Horsford described the entire scenario “as much ado about nothing.”

“There were no breaches to render the Referendum to happen as unlawful,” he said, while praising the Supervisor of Elections and his staff for doing their jobs in accordance with the Referendum Act.

In Thompson–Duncan’s application, she pointed out 18 breaches but it eventually was reduced to 2 — the ballot forms to be used on Referendum Day; and the use of the newspapers used to publish the writs and notice of the Referendum.

The submission about the ballot form was withdrawn by the claimant, while the Judge in her oral judgment confirmed that the publications did not violate the Referendum Act.

“Justice was done in this court house today,” said Dr Alexis.

Almost 1,000 police officers voted in special polling today, while the general voting public will vote on Thursday.

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