The long-awaited written decision in the October 8, 2021 COVID-19 protocols lawsuit has finally been delivered and received by the lawyers involved in the appeal against the oral order of Madame Justice Jacqueline Cornelius who dismissed the suit.
After several unsuccessful timelines over the past year, Friday was set as the latest date for the written decision to be made available to the parties.
But up to the close of business, lead Senior Counsel for the State Leslie Haynes and lead attorney for the claimants Neil Marshall reported that they had not received the written ruling.
On Saturday, Haynes explained that the written judgment “came in around 6:13 pm” yesterday by email, while Marshall said that even though he now has it in his possession, he had to get it from a colleague today.
He argued that the court did not send the email to him even though he is the attorney leading the case for the claimants.
But on Saturday Justice Cornelius, through the Executive Legal and Personal Assistant to the Chief Justice Carlitos Beckles sought to set the record straight.
Under instructions from the Judiciary, Beckles shared two emails with Barbados TODAY on Saturday, which showed that one was sent to all the attorneys including Marshall at 4:54 pm Friday and the second at 6:13 pm but which did not copy-in Marshall.
Beckles said the first email, which came from Legal Secretary to Justice Cornelius, Valinda Gittens, was sent at 4:54 pm to the senior attorneys in the matter.
“I am instructed, further, to inform you that the e-mail from the secretary was acknowledged by counsel involved in this matter,” the Executive Legal and Personal Assistant to the Chief Justice told Barbados TODAY.
However, she did not specify which counsel.
With regard to the second email, Beckles wrote: “The decision was previously sent out by the Judge’s Secretary Mrs Gittens but due to non-receipt of the decision, I have been asked to re-send. ”
Marshall has previously noted that the written decision is required for him to prepare a full and proper appeal with sound and substantial grounds.
Marshall said he will now study the written decision to see how best to move forward with the appeal on behalf of his clients who have already signalled their intention to take the challenge against Justice Cornelius’ ruling to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) if necessary.
Justice Cornelius had dismissed all submissions, which formed the core of four lawsuits brought by former Senator Caswell Franklyn, shopkeeper Adrian Kellman, and minimart owner Benson Straker, challenging the constitutionality of the COVID-19 protocols.
Franklyn had challenged the manner in which the Emergency Management, crafted by the Government to help control the spread of the COVID virus on the island, was imposed.
He charged that Government was illegally enforcing directives that did not have Parliament’s approval.
But in a near two-hour truncated oral decision, the judge told the virtual sitting that the directives were a proportionate response to the pandemic and not a breach of any fundamental rights. (EJ)