By Candia Dames
Supreme Court Judge Jeannie Thompson on Wednesday adjourned the Sidney Stubbs bankruptcy matter to November 9, after the Holy Cross MP’s attorneys indicated that they had aborted the line of argument originally planned.
The amendment to their summons resulted in the judge putting off the matter once again.
Mr. Stubbs was forced to go back to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal in July on the grounds that it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
Attorney Wayne Munroe, who represents Mr. Stubbs’ creditor, Gina Gonzalez, explained that the matter of whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the case still has to be clarified.
Members of Mr. Stubbs’ legal team had originally given notice that they intended to argue for the reversal of the bankruptcy order under Section 18 of the Bankruptcy Act, which outlines the circumstances under which a reversal of a bankruptcy order may be made.
But on Tuesday, they changed the summons, giving notice that they intend to argue that the court has an inherent jurisdiction to hear the case. They plan to assert essentially that there is no Act or rule under which this jurisdiction is specified.
As mentioned, because of the change, the parties have been given more time to prepare their arguments.
Mr. Stubbs has actually hired new attorneys, led by Thomas Evans. The MP still has as part of his legal team his parliamentary colleague, attorney Keod Smith, but Charles Mackay is no longer representing him.
Mr. Munroe had indicated during a recent appearance before Justice Thompson that an issue had arisen over whether Mr. Smith, who is also the MP for Mount Moriah, is in contempt of court for comments he made to the press in relation to this matter.
But that issue reportedly did not come up when the parties met in chambers Wednesday.
After coming out of the court, Mr. Smith told reporters, “The issue of jurisdiction will be discussed. It will be argued before the judge on the 9th and at that point, the judge will determine whether in fact she has jurisdiction to hear an application from Mr. Stubbs who was adjudicated a bankrupt.”
Mr. Stubbs’ attorneys assert that he can under law bring the case back to court. But Mr. Munroe argues that only the Registrar of the Supreme Court, who has been appointed trustee in bankruptcy, can move the court to reverse the decision against Mr. Stubbs.
As already reported by the Journal, Mr. Stubbs’ legal woes began on November 28, 1996 when a Supreme Court action was filed requiring him to pay a $55,000 debt with interest to Ms. Gonzalez.
As Mr. Stubbs was preparing to head back to court, notice was being given in the House of Assembly Wednesday that the government intends to bring a resolution seeking to extend the time for him to clear up the bankruptcy matter.
But FNM officials have indicated that they would stage a demonstration in front of the House of Assembly against such a plan.
They pointed out that the Constitution only provides an extension if an MP has avenues for an appeal. They claim Mr. Stubbs has none.
One PLP official told the Bahama Journal that Mr. Stubbs also plans to appeal before the Privy Council if he is unsuccessful in local courts.
At stake is his seat in the House of Assembly. He has been absent from the House for the past six months, after Justice Thompson declared him a bankrupt on March 30.
Another six-month extension from the House of Assembly, as is being pushed by the government, could mean his seat on the backbench could be vacant for up to a year.