By: Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St Kitts, July 8, 2020 – A request to the Eastern Caribbean Appeal Court by Jonel Powell and Lindsay Grant for a delay in hearing their challenge to a default judgment arising from their misappropriation of US$460,000, as they were now elected to St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, was refused last month.
In a judgment handed down on Monday, July 6, the Appeal Court noted that Powell and Grant, who were elected to St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly on June 5, 2020 “sought to suggest that they are facing the greater prejudice having regard to the nature of the judgment against them and their standing as politicians and members of the government.”
But in response Chief Justice Her Ladyship Dame Janice Periera with the concurrence of Justices Louise Blenman and Gerard Farara ruled their request was an irrelevant consideration in assessing prejudice in the case seeking an extension of time to appeal a default judgment against them in the High Court.
“Before the court, all parties are equal and entitled to equal protection before the law. One class of persons is not afforded some greater privilege and merits more consideration than another by virtue of political or ministerial portfolio. For the court to take such an approach would be an affront to the constitutional principles and the rule of law by which the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis is governed,” said the Chief Justice.
“This is a case in which the applicants time and again, have abysmally flouted the rules of court or chose to adopt a lax approach in respect of the serious claims made against them. It would be reasonable to expect that the applicants, given the gravity of the averments made in the claim as early as 22nd December 2017, would have been punctilious in their defences of it,” the judgment said.
The full court was of the view that the misappropriation of US$460,000 by Powell and Grant and their efforts to challenge the default judgment clearly prejudiced their client, Tanzania Tobin Tanzil “as he has to date not yet reaped the fruits of his judgment while having to counter the applicants’ belated efforts to seek the court’s indulgence to possibly deprive him of them.”