The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal of Castries South East MP – Guy Joseph, in a case in which Joseph sought to have Attorney at Law, Anthony Astaphan, restrained from representing the Constituency Boundaries Commission.
The Court of Appeal in dismissing Joseph’s appeal, ordered that he pay the Commission its costs in the Court of Appeal and in the High Court.
The decision was given in open court today during a sitting in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
On 26th February 2015, Guy Joseph had instituted legal proceedings in against the Commission, the Prime Minister and the Attorney General.
The Castries South East MP had complained that in compiling its report recommending an increase of constituencies from 17 to 21 and changes to some constituencies, the Commission had not acted independently and was improperly influenced by the ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP).
Less than a month later, on March 6, 2015, Joseph applied for an order restraining the Commission from continuing to retain Anthony Astaphan, SC to represent it in the underlying claim.
He requested an order that the Commission be independently represented by counsel who is not connected with any of the political parties or with any of the parties in the underlying claim.
The basis for Joseph’s application was, among other things, that there was a conflict since Astaphan was already on record as representing the Governor General and Prime Minister Doctor Kenny Anthony with whom he had a close relationship.
He also asserted that Astaphan had a close relationship with the Chairman of the Constituency Boundaries Commission.
The High Court judge dismissed Joseph’s application for a number of reasons including that evidence of Astaphan’s long standing relationship with the Prime Minister, the Chairman of the Commission, and newspaper reports, was not sufficient to prove that he was a political activist.
The Court of Appeal in its judgement found that the High Court judge did apply the correct test in making a determination on whether Astaphan, was suitable to represent the Commission.
It also said the judge applied the correct standard of proof in considering the evidence in the case.
According to the Court of Appeal judgement, the jurisdiction of the court to restrain a legal practitioner from representing a litigant is an exceptional one and ought to be exercised with caution.
It asserted that” compelling evidence” would be required for the court to make a determination that a legal practitioner should be restrained from continuing to represent his client.