The eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) has denied an application for an injunction to stop tomorrow’s General Election in Dominica.
Pressure group, Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), headed by its president Loftus Durand and six other Dominican citizens, went to court to challenge the December 6th, 2019 elections and asked the court to “halt the process and place an injunction.”
However, High Court Judge, Bernie Stephenson, ruled that the court does not have the jurisdiction to grant an injunction to stop the December 6th, 2019 general elections to be held in Dominica.
Leader lawyer for the applicants, Cara Shillingford, then filed an appeal on behalf of her clients stating, “We remain firm in our conviction that the elections should be stopped and there are too many irregularities for the December 6, 2019 election to go ahead.”
Lennox Lawrence and Jodi Luke who represented President Charles Savarin and filed a notice of “objection” saying that the Appellants were in contravention of Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) Part 62:6 1(b) which states, in part, that the appellants must seek the approval and agreement of the Respondents and since no such request was made the appeal should be dismissed.
In response, Cara Shillingford lawyer for the Appellants conceded that no such request was made but told the court that given the nature of the matter, the court had the jurisdiction to deal with the matter despite her not seeking the agreement of the Respondents.
The court agreed with her stating that they have “case management powers” and so dealt with the matter.
In her submissions, Shillingford told the court that her clients were simply asking the court to have the Electoral Commission and Chief Elections Officer “comply with the electoral laws of Dominica.”
“The Constitution is not suspended during an election. The Electoral Office must use the revised list of electors for the election as is prescribed by law,” she said.
Shillingford asked the court to grant the reliefs asked for that is, to “grant an injunction suspending the date of the election and ordering the Electoral Commission and the Chief Elections Officer to use the revised list for the election as per the electoral laws.”
In response, Heather Felix-Evans told the court that the alleged irregularities complained about by the appellants can be determined after the election via election petition.
“They are asking the judiciary to stop the election which is the purview of the President. Settled case law is clear; the complaints of the appellants can be rectified and dealt with via election petition after the election,” Felix-Evans stated.
She told the justices that when one looks at the application of the appellants, they are seeking to stop the election but that is “not possible. she said.
Her presentations were endorsed by Lennox Lawrence, Attorney General Levi Peters and Stephen Isidore, counsel for DBS radio.
Lawrence told the court that any irregularities complained of can be filed after the election and they are “not left without remedies. They have no judicial authorities. We asked that you find, as the trial judge found and dismissed with the appeal cost.”
But in her final rebuttal, Shillingford explained that the election laws were disregarded and the court needs to give the people “a level of confidence in the electoral system.”
After almost eight hours of listening to arguments from both sides, the ECSC panel consisting of Chief Justice Dame Janice Perriera, Justices of Appeal Mario Michel and Gertal Thom, retired at 9:19 pm and returned at 10:23 pm with their decision.
“In our view, we have concluded that the decision of the trial judge ought not to be disturbed. We are making no order as to cost,” Chief Justice Dame Perriera stated.
She said, however, that the allegations of discrimination against DBS radio would be “remitted back to the high court for judicial review” and a written copy of their decision would