No Constitutional Contravention - High Court Strikes Out Claim

THE High Court yesterday ruled that the Claim filed by the Leader of the Independent Members was frivolous and vexatious, discloses no reasonable cause of action and is an abuse of the Court process and accordingly struck out the Claim High Court in the civil case no. 313 of 2023.

In delivering his ruling, His Lordship the Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer held that contrary to the assertions of the Claimant, the interpretation of section 61(3) of the Constitution required Parliament to pass the Constitutional (Amendment) 2022 Act on both the second and third readings with a majority of two-thirds of Members of Parliament.

The High Court held that the contention that there should be two separate readings on the third reading was simply not what the Constitution intended.

In giving out the judgement, Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer also held that the Claimant as a matter of procedure failed to object during the process in which constitution (amendment bill) 2022 was tabled to suspend section 73 (3) of the constitution to allow parliament to continue till 31st December 2023. The Claimant instead chose to participate in the Parliamentary proceedings in which the Claimant voted “no” in both readings.

“Having failed to make such objection he is estopped from coming to this court for relief as he cannot demonstrate that his rights under the constitution had been contravened and his interests affected or likely to be affected by such contraventions”, the Chief Justice stated.

Chief Justice Albert Palmer stated that the parliament is the right forum to hear the claimant’s issue, and should the claimant raised the matter it could have been addressed there and then.

The Chief Justice added that “…even if there is to be any relief given the most this court can do would be to refer the matter back to Parliament to resolve the issue”.

The Chief Justice further held that should the claimant raised his belief that the process of passing the constitutional (amendment bill) 2022 has affected his rights, then the claimant’s rights would have been taken to the court for redress.

With regard to the issue of delay, the Chief Justice stated that “the issue of failing to object is related to this issue of delay or sleeping on his rights if any…any litigant must be vigilant and run to the courts where that is required”.

The Chief Justice quoted the maxim “the vigilant, not the sleeping, are aided by the laws” adding that “even in the event that the application is granted in his favor, time has lapsed, it took the claimant not less than 10 months (293 days) before having his claim filed in court on 28 June 2023…”

“The time frame is simply an impossibility now and so raises the practical question as to what if any purpose to be achieved by this claim,” Sir Albert Palmer stated.

The Attorney-General having received the judgment and briefed the Executive has received new instructions.

“After briefing the Executive, I now hold instructions to seek declaratory Orders in the High Court of Solomon Islands whether Members of Parliament who voted ‘No’ on September 6, 2022, were effectively on 15th May, 2023, no longer Members of Parliament and whether having ceased being Members of Parliament on 15th May, 2023, were no longer entitled to receive benefits accrued by Members of Parliament and that any benefits acquired thereafter from the state shall be refunded in full to the State”.

The Claimant was represented by Counsel Billy Titiulu whilst the Hon. Speaker was represented by Timothy Matthews KC and the Prime Minister, and the Governor-General were represented by the Attorney-General.


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