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Lawyers disappointed, but not deterred by court decision

Lawyers disappointed, but not deterred by court decision

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Lawyers Maia Eustace and Stanley ‘Stalky’ John QC said yesterday that they are awaiting instructions from their client Benjamin Exeter in respect of filing an election petition relating to the December 9 General Elections.

On Thursday, December 17, Eustace and John filed an order on behalf of Exeter for the production and inspection of documents related to the Central Leeward constituency of the December 9 {{more}}elections.

Yesterday, December 28, the High Court dismissed the application in which Exeter asked, among other things, to have ballot boxes be placed in the custody of the Registrar of the High Court, for the ballot boxes to be opened by the Registrar in the presence of Exeter and also for Exeter to be allowed to inspect the ballots. The application also asked that the sealed packets containing counterfoils be opened by the Registrar in the presence of the Exeter and he be permitted to inspect the counterfoils.

The lawyers had claimed in their application that their application was important, as the orders sought would help them to file an effective election petition.

“We have informed him of the judgement today and we will be meeting with him shortly to take his instructions,” Eustace told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday evening.

She said the team is disappointed, but will not be deterred by the court’s refusal to grant the orders and “we will simply take instructions from the client and if the client wants to proceed, we will proceed. We stand by our application.”

Queen’s Counsel John also expressed disappointment over the court’s refusal to grant the orders. He said the application had been filed to help support the proposed election petition and they are currently discussing the way forward with the client.

He said that Exeter and a number of witnesses are adamant that there were a number of irregularities in the election process as it relates to ballots, so more than likely the election petition will be filled.

Political parties have 21 days after returning officers have made their returns to file petitions challenging the results of the elections. The election returns were made on December 10, so that means that Exeter has until this Thursday, December 31, to file the election petition.

Persons eligible to make petitions before the court complaining of “an undue return or undue election of a member of the House of Assembly” include: (a) a person who voted or had a right to vote at the election to which the petition relates (b) a person claiming to have had a right to be returned at such election; (c) a person alleging himself to have been a candidate at such election.

At the conclusion of the trial, the judge shall determine whether the member of the House whose return or election is complained of, or any and what other person was duly returned or elected, or whether the election was void, and shall certify such determination to the Governor General, and the return shall be confirmed or altered, or a writ for a new election shall be issued, as the case may require, in accordance with such determination.

No election petition has been filed in St Vincent and the Grenadines since 1994.

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