BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 10, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, believes the landmark ruling by the High Court in the “Motion of No Confidence cases” are of significant importance not only for the democracy of St. Kitts and Nevis, but for the wider Caribbean region as well.
Reacting to the judgment handed down by Resident Judge, Her Ladyship the Honourable Justice Pearletta Lanns on Tuesday, 7th November 2017, in which she comprehensively found in favour of the six claimants in the “Motion of No Confidence cases,” the Honourable Prime Minister described the verdict as a tremendous victory “which, I think, would become the example throughout the rest of the Caribbean as to how Governments ought to treat motions of no confidence. We feel a sense of vindication. It is a big day for democracy in St. Kitts and Nevis, and it represents, in my view, a repudiation to the policies of the Douglas administration.”
Justice Lanns presided over the trial on Thursday, 6th April, 2017 of the two consolidated cases: namely, the first case brought by the Honourable Mark Brantley, Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Honourable Shawn Richards, Honourable Vance Amory, Honourable Sam Condor, and Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris in respect of a motion of no confidence lodged by the Honourable Mark Brantley on 11th December 2012; and the second case which was brought by Dr. Harris in respect of a motion of no confidence he lodged on 15th September 2014.
The Hon. Curtis Martin, then Speaker of the National Assembly, was a defendant in both cases.
After consideration of the parties’ arguments, Her Ladyship concluded that “Every elected member or elected representative in the National Assembly has an implied right under Section 52-(6) of the Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis to bring a motion of no confidence, and to have that motion listed, debated and voted on without undue delay and within a reasonable time.”
The Honourable Justice Lanns also concluded that, “The court has jurisdiction and that the rights which are implicit in section 52-(6) had been violated by the failure of the Speaker to schedule the motion of no confidence for debate, and to be voted on without undue delay and within a reasonable time of the motion being handed to the Clerk, or sent, or left at the Clerk’s office.”
Though the Team Unity coalition secured a historic victory at the polls on February 16th, 2015, Prime Minister Harris said a definitive ruling on this matter was still of significant importance, particularly as it relates to our democracy, and how a Parliament should function.
“What the court has done by this judgment, as I understand it, is to indicate that never again should a Government in St. Kitts and Nevis do what the Douglas administration did in denying the hearing of a motion of no confidence. These judgments set standards for behaviour and conduct; they set standards which other persons with interest in democracy could use as a precedent, and so because we are part of an OECS Judiciary, for example, the importance of this goes beyond the borders of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
Justice Lanns also awarded costs to the claimants to be assessed by the Court, if not agreed upon by the parties within 21 days.