St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The High Court has reserved judgment, pending the submission of written statements within 28 days, on the Motion of No Confidence that date back to the last administration.
Opposition efforts to have the Motions tabled in parliament were rebuffed for more than two years with the then government, lead by Dr Denzil Douglas, arguing that the constitution did not offer a fixed time for a Motion of No Confidence to be heard.
The Speaker of the National Assembly Mr. Curtis Martin also instituted legal proceedings when the opposition sought to withdraw the Motions on the grounds that he wanted the High Court to pronounce on its jurisdiction over the Speaker of the National Assembly.
The Office of the Prime Minister reported Attorney General Vincent Byron as declaring that the matter before the court was of great public interest as it questioned whether the rights of parliamentarians had been infringed and the constitution breached.
A successful Motion of No Confidence at the time would have resulted in a change of government.
Oral arguments were heard in court last Thursday (April 6). In attendance were the claimants and the past and current Speaker of the National Assembly. Dr Douglas Mendes SC is the lead Counsel for the Claimants while Mr. Anthony Astaphan SC appeared for the former Speaker of the House, Curtis Martin.
Anthony Astaphan SC spoke to WINN FM 98.9
“The then opposition, Mark Brantley I think it was and then Mr. Timothy Harris presented Motions of No Confidence to the House for debate and they were not put forward promptly or as they would have required and litigation started. Once litigation started the then Speaker of the House said it’s a matter of public interest for the court to have a ruling and for the parliament be guided by a ruling of the court on the status of a Motion of No Confidence, on the right to bring a Motion of No Confidence and on the status and content of the standing orders. As a result it took quite a bit of time to get there because as you know there were several skirmishes taking place. The long and short of it is, is whether as a matter of constitutional law that once a Motion of No Confidence is presented to the House, subject of course to ensuring that it is in order, it must be debated and presented as a matter of urgency or priority given regard to the exigencies of the government’s business or whether or not the standing orders need to be amended to give full effect or to make fully effective, the right to bring a Motion of No Confidence. It is strikingly odd in all of these standing orders that a Motion of Privilege must be heard urgently, the motion presented by a Speaker must be heard and presented for debate once it is seconded by a somebody in the House, but a Motion of No Confidence which could lead to a change of government has no presence, no specific expressed presence in the standing orders to give effect to that constitutional obligation and consequence,” he said.
The current Opposition lead by Dr Denzil Douglas this year filed a Motion of No Confidence in the Speaker of the National Assembly Mr. Michael Perkins.