Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn’s lawsuit against Government in relation to its COVID-19 directives will be heard “quickly” as opposed to “urgently”.
This was the position of Madam Justice Jacqueline Cornelius when the matter came up before her in the No. 13 Supreme Court late this morning.
Franklyn, represented by attorney-at-law Neil Marshall is challenging the manner in which the Emergency Management legislation, crafted by Government to control the spread of COVID-19 on the island, was imposed. He charged that Government is illegally enforcing directives that have not had Parliament’s approval.
“I do not consider this matter to be one of urgency . . . . At the same time we do understand that they are matters of great public importance and it’s not really desirable that matters should be shuffled down the line just on the basis that it is not urgent.
“I am prepared to hear this, not as a matter of urgency but as a matter that is deserving of an early hearing,” the High Court Judge said to Franklyn’s attorney and Principal Crown Counsel Marsha Lougheed and Senior Crown Counsel Gayl Scott from the Solicitor General’s Office. The latter is representing the Attorney General in the matter.
The judge’s decision also raised her recusal from the matter as her husband, Queen’s Counsel Ralph Thorne, is a Member of Parliament. The attorneys offered no objection to the Madame Justice continuing to sit in the matter when given an opportunity to do so.
“Why I am bringing it up now? Because I understand this is a matter of some public importance both this one and the next one and I did not wish if there was an application for me to recuse myself that it would then have to go back in the registry . . .” she said.
The same positions were applied to an application filed by attorney Marshall on behalf of shopkeeper Adrian Kellman. That court action stems from the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit’s recent closure of Kellman’s shop, the popular Kermit’s Bar, located at Thornbury Hill, Christ Church.
Senior Crown Counsel Ann-Marie Coombs and her colleague Scott are representing the Attorney General in that case.
Marshall also put the court on notice of a third matter involving shop owner Benson Straker which he said was scheduled to be heard before Madam Justice Barbara Cooke-Alleyne on Thursday, March 18.
Straker is suing Attorney General Dale Marshall and Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith alleging they acted unlawfully and beyond their legal power of authority in enforcing the amendment of the Emergency Management (Amendment) Act, the law governing the directives.
The case has two applicants – Benson’s Minimart against the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police while the other is Ricky Straker against the Attorney General.
However, Senator Franklyn told the media, he was not concerned that Justice Cornelius did not deem his application to be urgent.
“The judge is prepared to do it quickly, so I am happy. Semantics that’s all it is you know . . . if they hear it quickly and it ain’t urgent.
“It is not my matter. This is a matter for the people of Barbados you know. I am not prejudiced. I have a pass, I can leave my home and walk out at 2 o’clock in the morning and the police won’t be able to do me anything. I am doing this because I believe it is wrong, that the Government is exceeding its authority that people who are not able to speak for themselves are being penalized and that bothers me.
“I am not going to get anything out of this other than, what I getting out of it now, nothing. I want to be able to say look the Government is wrong or the Government is right. I want it on the record definitively but I don’t believe the Government is right in this matter,” Franklyn stated. He said he was willing to take the matter all the way to the island’s highest court.
“If this does not go my way, I will go to the Court of Appeal and if it does not go my way there, we will go to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). This must be determined definitively for our country,” he added.
But his attorney said he would not “prejudged” the case and speak of an appeal just yet.
“I have faith in the case that we have brought before the court and we hope that the court would see our view as being the better view and rule in our favour,” Marshall said.
He also explained that they may look at a position put forward to consolidate all the cases so the court could hear them together.
“Ultimately, the issue of consolidation is one that is entirely at the discretion of the court,” he added.
Once all the relevant documents have been served, the filed matters will be called again before Justice Cornelius on March 29.