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Delay in NDP’s elections petition not our fault, says lawyer

Delay in NDP’s elections petition not our fault, says lawyer

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The elections petitions appeal filed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) will not be heard while the Court of Appeal is sitting in St Vincent and the Grenadines this week, but this, according to one of the party’s lawyers, is not their fault.

During a press briefing at Democrat House yesterday, counsel for the NDP Bertram Commissiong said the NDP’s legal team had submitted their appeal well before the deadline.{{more}}

“Our law says that when you appeal you can do it within 42 days of judgement being delivered. The judgement was delivered on the 23rd June 2016 and on the 3rd of August the appeal was filed. That is 41 days after the judgement was given. So, we are well 24 hours at least within the timeline,” he stated.

The NDP press conference was called following a claim last Friday, by Anthony Astaphan, counsel for the respondents in the election petitions that the lawyers for the NDP lawyers were not interesting in pursuing the matter.

“They are not interested in pursuing it; it is taking too long. It is taking months…,” Astaphan said, during an interview on Boom 106.9 FM.

“Up until last night at 10, when I spoke to Richard Williams (another lawyer for the respondents in the elections petitions), he had not yet received the record of appeal; we have not yet received any submissions in support of the appeal; we have not had any submissions in response.

“I can safely tell you that in matters that I have been involved in, in the past….that appeals have generally been filed by the losing side within seven days…. They took 41 days plus several hours and at the last minute filed the election petitions,” Astaphan said.

However, yesterday, Commissiong said it is not uncommon for appeals to be sent in at that time, since the lawyers have to conduct extensive research on what they did in the first instance.

He explained that after filing the appeal, a request was made by letter on August 4 for the transcripts of the court proceedings. “In order to launch your appeal and properly pursue it, you need to have a transcript…the written and vocal record to court.”

Commissiong noted that without the transcripts the lawyer cannot properly know what evidence was stated in the first instance. “It wasn’t until the 8th of September that the transcripts were received,” he said.

The lawyer noted that he received a letter on Sunday from the Bar Association with a list of court approved companies to assist in the preparation of the transcripts.

He noted that the cost of getting the transcripts from these companies would be more expensive than if they are to receive them from the court.

However, Commissiong said he is confident that the appeal would be heard before the end of the year.

“Supporters have nothing to fear that the appeal will be not be heard in this year. Even though the Court of Appeal does not sit in St Vincent for the rest of this year, there are four court sittings outside of St Vincent and we must note that it is not unusual for appeals from Grenada to be heard in St Vincent or from Grenada to go to Barbuda…the court when properly approached could very well fix the matter for hearing in one of the jurisdictions.”

He stated that because of the importance of the case, he is certain that court would give a hearing in one of the jurisdictions.

“I am sure that an election petition that is regarded as of utmost importance to which the courts ought to pay its attention…that the court will be most inclined to give us a hearing in one of these jurisdictions as soon as we shall have received the transcripts and the record is completed,” Commissiong said.(CM)

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