‘We’re happy with the results, business as usual for Gov’t’ – Attorney General

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With the majority decision of the Court of Appeal Friday afternoon, which effectively dismisses the effect of the December 21 No Confidence motion, it’s back to normal business for the Government, the Attorney General Basil Williams said.

“A lot of work has been put into this as you all know and we’ve really stretched the extremities of the law in this area, and we’re happy with the result,” Williams told reporters outside the Court of Appeal Friday evening.

Williams said that he was satisfied that “the proper principle” was applied to the computation and calculation of the vote cast in the National Assembly.

The Chief Justice, on January 31, had determined that the No Confidence motion was carried (or passed), declaring that a requisite majority was obtained by a vote of 33 members against 32, and so “the President and the Ministers cannot therefore remain in Government beyond the three months within which elections are required to be held in accordance with Article 106 Sub Article 7 unless that time is enlarged by the National Assembly in accordance with the requirements of said Article 106 Sub Article 7.”

That deadline expired today and the President was expected to announce a date for elections. But that is most likely to be thrown out the window with the ruling of two of the judges at the Court of Appeal.

Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory did not agree with the Chief Justice that the motion was passed by a majority of 33 in the House. The third judge, Justice Rishi Persaud, agreed with the rulings of the Chief Justice and dismissed the appeals.

The Chief Justice had declared: “In our 65-member National Assembly, therefore, a majority of all elected members of the National Assembly, in accordance with the principle of ‘one over all rivals combined’, is thirty-three (33) members.”

Justice Rishi Persaud agreed, stating that the simplicity and unambiguity of the meaning of majority must apply and dismissed arguments that a fraction rule should have been applied. He said that proposition was absurd.  He said the simple meaning has informed the practice of National Assembly for many years and was accepted by all at the time.

However, Justices Cummings-Edwards and Barnes did not agree. They reasoned that a division of half of the National Assembly would be 32.5 and that needs to be rounded to 33, and hence for a majority, one more would be needed, making the majority 34.

“We always believed that it was the right computation; all we had to do was find the road to satisfy the court and I think we did that very well,” the Attorney General said after the ruling at the Court of Appeal.

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