No Appeal For Stubbs
By Candia Dames
16th December 2004
Attorneys for Holy Cross Member of Parliament Sidney Stubbs are heading back to court today and are expected to report to Chief Justice Sir Burton Hall that Mr. Stubbs has no appeal pending before the Privy Council.
Last month, Sir Burton dismissed an application to have Mr. Stubbs’s bankruptcy order set aside, but he reserved judgment on an alternative request for an annulment of that order until it could be confirmed whether the case was being appealed to the high court in London.
The Bahama Journal has learnt that Mr. Stubbs’s legal team now intends to pursue the request for an annulment of the bankruptcy order Supreme Court Justice Jeanne Thompson issued against him on March 30.
If the court grants an annulment, this essentially means that Mr. Stubbs would no longer be a bankrupt.
The fact that he has no appeal to the Privy Council is likely to raise new arguments over the interpretation of the constitution.
Legal advisors have told the Bahama Journal that an application for an annulment does not technically constitute an appeal.
Some scholars interpret the constitution to mean that Mr. Stubbs can only remain in his seat as long as he has an appeal pending.
But the MP’s legal team is expected to argue that what the constitution is in fact saying on this point is that he is entitled to the extension of time he has secured from parliament as long as he has the “right to appeal.”
This new development in the Stubbs legal debacle may spark renewed political debate over his fate and whether a by election is likely.
One political observer claimed that parliament was misled in September when it passed a resolution to grant Mr. Stubbs a six-month time extension to appeal the matter on the basis that he intended to appeal the ruling.
“You have time limits to lodge appeals and prosecute them and if the time has passed and he has not lodged the appeal, that is the end of the matter,” the observer said. “The moment he fails to lodge it in a timely manner under the constitution his seat became vacant.”
But government and Progressive Liberal Party officials who continue to express open support for Mr. Stubbs view the situation another way.
They believe that an annulment is enough to get Mr. Stubbs back in his seat when the House of Assembly convenes next month after its Christmas recess.
Mr. Stubbs has been out of the House for nine months now and has until March to have the matter cleared up. It would be a full year since he would have been out of the House.
The MP has insisted that he continues to work in his constituency and has claimed that he still has the support of the majority of his constituents.
A group of them even went as far as filing a summons in the Supreme Court in support of Mr. Stubbs, but Sir Burton asked the constituents to desist from interfering with the judicial process and said what they did could amount to contempt of court.
Even though Mr. Stubbs has said that his former creditor, Gina Gonzalez, has been repaid all that is owed to her, he cannot return to parliament as long as he is still a bankrupt.