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Attorneys appearing in the appeal case challenging the High Court’s decision to nullify Election Petition 99 over noncompliance of service have been given additional time to make further submissions on the Appellate Court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.
During a June 15, 2021 hearing of the case – Monica Thomas and Brennan Nurse v the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and others – Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, counsel for Leader of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C)- Bharrat Jagdeo – argued that the appellate court had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal. He argued that the appeal is not covered under Article 163 (3) of the Constitution, and as a consequent, the Court has no jurisdiction.
But Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, counsel for the petitioners, argued that while the Constitution specifically confers upon the Court of Appeal jurisdiction to entertain appeals in specified circumstances as set out in Article 163 of the Constitution in relation to Election Petitions, it also confers on the Court of Appeal by Article 123 (1) of the Constitution, “such jurisdiction and powers as are conferred on those Courts respectively by this Constitution or any other law.”
Those arguments continued on Thursday, July 29, 2021 before a panel of judges led by Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards.
However, the Appellate Court now wants the attorneys to determine whether the appeal should have been filed to the Full Court as against the Court of Appeal taking into consideration that the substantive questions in the petition were not addressed by the High Court due to its decision to strike out the matter base on a technical error. Secondly, the Appellate Judges have asked the attorneys to determine whether the Court of Appeal has sole jurisdiction to hear the appeal given the special jurisdiction created for election petition cases.
The attorneys have 21 days to make their submissions and another 21 days to reply. The case will come up again on October 26, 2021 at 9:30hrs.
During Thursday’s hearing, Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Counsel, John Jeremie led arguments on behalf the petitioners this time around. The Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who supported arguments put forward by Senior Counsel Mendes, was among those who also made submissions on Thursday.