by Linda Straker
Last Friday, Valerie A Thompson–Duncan, through the law firm Henry, Henry and Bristol, filed documents in the Court seeking an injunction to stop the 24 November 2016 referendum because of what she claimed was flaws in the process of publishing the Writs for the referendum and the decision by the Parliamentary Elections Office to use ballot forms printed the 27 October 2016 — the original date of the referendum.
The defendant is Supervisor of Elections Alex Phillip, and the matter was heard before Justice Wynante Adrian-Roberts in the #3 High Court. Phillip was represented in Court by Attorney–General Cajeton Hood, Solicitor–General Dwight Horsford, Chairman of the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) Dr Francis Alexis QC, and Ruggles Ferguson who also serves as an OECS Bar Association representation on the CRAC.
Thompson–Duncan was represented in Court by James ‘Jimmy’ Bristol and Claudette Joseph — 2 lawyers who have campaigned for a ‘no’ vote no for each of the 7 bills which will seek to amend sections of the constitution which required a two-thirds majority to vote ‘yes’ by public referendum.
After almost 4 hours of deliberations, the lawyers emerged from the Court with mixed expressions. Bristol and Joseph said nothing to the waiting press and got into their vehicles and drove off, while Horsford told the press that the judgement is reserved for Tuesday morning.
Attorney–General Cajeton Hood told the press that nothing has changed so far, and as a result the Police will be voting on schedule on Tuesday from 6 am to 5 pm. The general voting public is due to cast ballots on Thursday, 24 November.
Dr Alexis told the waiting media that Thompson–Duncan’s attorneys withdrew one of the submissions and explained what transpired. “They were contending viciously that you could not use the old ballot form because it’s of the first importance that a date be on the ballot paper, and that date be the actual date of the referendum,” he said.
“We asked them to show us which law says so, and we took them through the form to show that they had completely misconceived what that were saying; at least they were gracious enough to say, very well, we concede that point! so they made the work of the court easier for tomorrow,” he added.
Elaborating further he said: “There is only one other matter remaining which is, really, what is the proper interpretation of section 5 (2B) of the Referendum Act — they gave their interpretation, we gave ours, and the Court will rule,” he said.
That section of the Referendum Act refers to the publication of the writs and bills in the Gazette and newspapers.