Three cases relating to the referendum have been unsuccessful for the government, but tonight, the referendum proceeds. The legalities started on April first when the Chief Justice ordered an interim injunction on the then April tenth referendum. That decision was taken to the Court of Appeal by the government, but the court said it did not have jurisdiction to entertain the appeal and the injunction remained in place. Today, the government and P.U.P. parliamentarians returned before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. Government attorney, Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman, on April twelfth announced that government was applying to have the injunction lifted even as a bill for a new referendum law was before the House of Representatives. The application was made and it was expected that submissions from both sides would have been fully heard today. This morning, arguments began with Shoman asserting that the I.C.J. injunction was based on the writ of referendum which was issued for April tenth. Shoman submitted that the date had passed and there is now a new territorial dispute referendum bill. New writs have since been issued and according to Shoman, lifting the referendum was simply a matter of formality. The P.U.P.’s attorney Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay objected on the basis that there is an appeal before the Court of Appeal directly related to the Chief Justice’s decision. That was this morning, but this afternoon, there was an unexpected turn of events. When the court resumed and after revision and consultation with government, Shoman informed the Chief Justice that while several court cases can be cited to argue the objections, her instructions are to withdraw the application to discharge the injunction.
Lisa Shoman, Attorney for G.O.B.
“Specifically because Mr. Courtenay stood up in court and said this morning that he had or that the claimants had no issue with the factual basis with what was contained in those affidavits that the defendants decided since really what the bottom line is, is that it is a moot point that we would simply withdraw the application. Knowing that there is no challenge to next week’s referendum that withdrawal was taken rather than prolong a fight that was no longer necessary at all.”
Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for P.U.P.
“To put it in a very simple way, what we said to the court was that once again the Government had come to the wrong court with the wrong application seeking to have the injunction discharged. They asked for time and the Chief Justice gave them until three o’clock this afternoon. When they returned to court without expressly saying so, they in effect said that they withdrew their application. So effectively they have said that we are right and they are wrong.”