Contempt of Court Ruling In Question
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
August 07, 2009 (CUOPM)
The Attorney General of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Dennis Merchant Friday afternoon filed several grounds of appeal following a Contempt of Court ruling.
The ruling was handed down by High Court Judge, Her Ladyship the Hon. Justice Rita Joseph-Olivetti.
The Attorney General has asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the Judgment and Orders of the Justice including the Order of costs of the Learned Judge on several grounds.
He contends among other issues that the learned Judge erred in law and misdirected herself when she failed to strike out the application to cite the Appellant for contempt; the learned Judge erred in law and misdirected herself when she failed to consider and/or hold that the Respondent Shawn Richards has failed to meet the burden and standard of proof required to establish the serious quasi-criminal offence of contempt and that the learned Judge erred in law and misdirected herself when she held that she relied on matters which allegedly occurred in the National Assembly to hold that the Appellant was present in the National Assembly on the 8th July 2009 “and participated in the proceedings to lay the report.”
Also that by his legal advice, that the without notice order did not preclude the laying of the report before the National Assembly, the Appellant as Attorney General, facilitated the Government in violating the orders and as a result was in contempt of court.
The Appellant also contends that the learned Judge erred in law and misdirected herself when she failed to consider and/or hold that the without notice injunctions and orders against the Appellant as Attorney General, was in constitutional proceedings (which are not civil proceedings for the purposes of the Crown Proceedings Act) meaningless as (i) the Attorney General had absolutely no statutory duty to perform in respect of these proceedings, (ii) the orders made no mention of the proceedings of the National Assembly or section 50 (3) of the Constitution and no Minister or Member of the Assembly were parties to the proceedings, and (iii) the Boundaries Commission had already submitted its report to the Governor General.
Other grounds for appeal are that the learned Judge erred in law and misdirected herself when she held that “the Government had violated the without notice order” in that this issue was not before the Learned Judge’; there was no application before the Court concerning any breach by the Government, and there was and is no basis in fact or law for this extraordinary finding and that the learned Judge erred in law and misdirected herself when she failed to consider that the application to commit the Appellant for contempt is barred and the jurisdiction of the High Court ousted by the provisions of section 3 of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act Cap 167, and the provisions of section 45 of the Constitution; by Article 9 of the Bill of Rights which is part of the common law of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and violated the fundamental principles of legal professional privilege.