CCJ sets May 10 for arguments challenging No Confidence ruling

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The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has set May 10th as the date for hearing on all matters related to the No Confidence vote of December 21.

At a case management hearing held at the CCJ in Trinidad and Tobago Friday, President of the CCJ Justice Adrian Saunders granted special leave for the matters to be treated as urgent.

The Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, is appealing the 2:1 decision of the Court of Appeal of a week ago in which it was determined that the No Confidence motion was not validly passed in the National Assembly.

On the night of December 21, 33 Parliamentarians voted for the No Confidence motion and 32 voted against.

Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justice Dawn Gregory both declared that it was actually 34 votes that should constitute an “absolute” majority for the passage of a No Confidence motion.

However, all three judges upheld an earlier ruling of the Chief Justice that those Guyanese Parliamentarians who hold citizenship in other countries are not qualified to sit in the House.

The government, which has dual citizens in the National Assembly, is appealing this decision at the CCJ.

At the case management hearing, it was decided that the respective applicants will have to file notices of appeal by Monday, April 1 and cross-appeals will have to be filed by April 8. All sides will have to provide written submissions on or before April 17 and the CCJ will sit on April 24 for a pre-trial review hearing. This will be followed by oral arguments on May 10.

Justice Saunders strongly advised that all attorneys appearing on May 10 do so in court and not via Skype.

Additionally, Justice Saunders added the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as a defendant in the matters, having determined that the election body is a “necessary party.”

Representing Guyana’s Attorney General in the matters is Senior Counsel Eamon Harrison Courtenay, who when asked by the CCJ if there will be any cross-appeals, noted that a decision has not been taken but it is “likely.”

The Senior Counsel explained that he only received the transcript of the Court of Appeal judgment on Thursday night and did not get time to review it.

“The inclination is that there is likely to be cross-appeals…these are matters of high constitutional importance…the Attorney General is prepared to have it settled,” Attorney Courtenay told the CCJ.

Meanwhile, the challenge to the appointment of GECOM’s Chairman is set for hearing on May 8.

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