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Apr 3, 2019

A “Strange” Request to Proceed with Referendum, Nonetheless

Eamon Courtenay

Last Wednesday, during the prime minister’s press conference where he unveiled a revised legal opinion by former I.C.J. President Stephen Schwebel, attorney Lisa Shoman added her two cents to a question posed by a fellow media colleague.  That question had to do with a possible outcome in today’s injunction hearing.  Not only was the former foreign minister turned government’s lead counsel optimistic of a ruling in her client’s favour, she also went on record to say that the referendum would proceed as scheduled.  On Monday, however, a junior lawyer held the reins in court.  Immediately after the C.J.’s ruling this afternoon, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay took aim at the weakness in government’s legal strategy.  He also spoke on the absurdity of government’s request to proceed with the injunction, despite the ruling of the Supreme Court.


Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Claimants

“What I would say first of all, it’s a lesson to all young attorneys. You shouldn’t come on the television gloating before the judgment.  You must wait until after the judgment before you speak, especially in circumstances where you are being paid by the government in a major case like this and when you get to court you take a junior counsel to argue the case, alright.  Let me start by saying that.”



“Can you say if the Chief Justice is likely to approve what the defense is requesting and the referendum still proceeds?”


Eamon Courtenay

“Well I, as I said on the last occasion, I am not going to prejudge what the Chief Justice is going to do.  I need to see first of all what papers are filed by the government.  I need to see what application they make and take instructions from my client and see how they respond.  All I will say as I explained to the Chief Justice, the basis on which he granted the injunction is the legality of the whole referendum and the government, having listened to that, has the temerity to immediately say to him, “Well we noh worry bout that, we still want to hold the referendum.  But we wahn hold the referendum but we noh wahn declare the results.”  Seems to me to be a rather bizarre request to the Chief Justice.”


Senior Counsel Courtenay will be appearing on Open Your Eyes on Thursday morning to discuss today’s milestone ruling.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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