Law Lords of the London-based Privy Council are presently hearing a matter involving Oppostion Leader, Lennox Linton and chartered accountant, Kieron Pinard-Byrne.
The case will be the last from Dominica to be heard before the Privy Council since the island has made the Caribbean Court of Justice its final appellate court.
The matter centers around the Layou River Economic Citizenship Program and the Layou River Hotel project.
In 2002 Pinard-Byrne sued Linton because of an article published on the program on a website and statements made about the same program on a radio show, on which Linton was a guest.
According to Pinard-Byrne he was libeled by Linton, who was a journalist at the time.
In March 2011 the High Court in Dominica ruled in favor of Pinard-Byrne.
The matter was taken to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) in March 2013 and the High Court’s decision was reversed with a ruling in Linton’s favor.
The ECSC, in its ruling, said its decision was based on ‘qualified privilege.’
Qualified privilege gives the press some level of immunity from defamation charges for statements made in good faith, unless it can be proven it was done with malice.
Immediately after the ruling, Pinard-Bryne’s attorney, Tony Astaphan, indicated that they were considering taking the matter to the Privy Council since, according to him, the ECSC’s ruling had narrowed the issue of qualified privilege ‘much too much.’
When the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal met in Dominica in March 2014, the judges granted leave to Pinard-Byrne to take the matter to the Privy Council after Astaphan said his client had “fully complied with all the rules as laid down by the court of appeal and had also paid the required 500 pounds sterling to the court.”
The court then ruled that the conditions have been met and “final leave is hereby granted by the appellant to go to the the Privy Council to appeal by decision of the court filed on 25, March 2013.”
In his appeal Pinard-Byne said the ECSC made its decision without properly considering his complaint.
DNO is following this story and will publish information as it becomes available.