by Linda Straker
- Joseph claimed Dr Mitchell was an investor in failed aquaculture shrimp farm project
- In January 2021 the High Court dismissed Joseph’s appeal
- Government in March 2019 announced an investigation
Almost one year after a Master for the High Court in Grenada dismissed the application filed by Claudette Joseph to file a late defence in a defamation lawsuit against Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, Joseph has lost the appeal in the OECS Court of Appeal.
In January 2021 the High Court dismissed Joseph’s appeal after she sought to file a defence after the allocated time assigned by the Court and the lawyer for Dr Mitchell sought a judgment in default.
“Claudette Joseph has lost the appeal against Prime Minister Keith Mitchell in a judgment handed down by the Court of Appeal today,” said Nigel Stewart, attorney at law for Dr Keith Mitchell. “In effect, the Court of Appeal has reaffirmed the judgment of the High Court in awarding judgment against Claudette Joseph in relation to defamatory comments made in relation to the shrimp farm project,” he explained.
Joseph, using broadcasting outlets, claimed that Dr Mitchell was an investor in the failed aquaculture shrimp farm project. She pointed to a YouTube video as evidence of the claim. However, Dr Mitchell has denied that he was an investor in the project which was an approved Citizenship by Investment Committee. The Government in March 2019 announced an investigation into that project after it failed to materialise.
In December 2019, Joseph received a letter from the law firm of Nigel Stewart and Associates demanding that Joseph cease and desist from repeating the claim; apologise, and pay compensation in the amount of EC$350,000 within 7 days of receiving the pre-action protocol letter.
The parties did not reach an out-of-court settlement and Claudette along with her legal counsel did not file a defence in the matter within the allocated court date. As a result, there was a judgment against her. She attempted to file a defence after the allocated time but the court dismissed her application.
After hearing arguments by both attorneys on an application filed on behalf of Joseph, for permission to file a defence to Dr Mitchell’s suit, the Court agreed with Stewart’s submissions, that Joseph did not meet the necessary threshold or satisfy any of the conditions as prescribed by law and proceeded to dismiss Joseph’s application.
That is the judgment she appealed and the OECS Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of the High Court. The parties are set to return to court later in the year for assessment and then she will know the amount of money the Court will award Dr Mitchell.
When asked about the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Joseph said, “Regarding the ruling given in the Court of Appeal today in the case between Keith C Mitchell and me, the matter is with my lawyers as I await the written judgment of the court.”