Saint Lucia
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Hilaire to Consult Lawyers Following Privy Council Ruling — Statement

Dr. Ernest Hilaire speaking at a podium.
Dr. Ernest Hilaire

A few years ago, Allen Chastanet made serious statements about me which I was advised were defamatory as it alleged that I was involved in corruption during my tenure as High Commissioner in the UK.

I have no doubt that he did so for political expediency to damage my reputation, integrity and my career and done out of spite and malice as his accusations were baseless, untrue and he knew that.

My case was filed and pursued under the laws as it was known to exist in Saint Lucia.

Allen Chastanet defended his actions by using the English statute Law and not the Saint Lucia statute law that has always been used in Saint Lucia.

Our law as was known did not allow the type of defence that was presented by him. Accordingly, an application was brought within the Defamation case for the High Court to determine, which law applied, to allow the case to be dealt with on its merit at Trial.

Opposition Leader, Allen Chastanet
Opposition Leader, Allen Chastanet

In the High Court, the Learned Judge ruled that it is Saint Lucia law which applies.

This decision was then appealed and the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal ruled no, English Statute Law which applies and not merely the common law.

At that point, I could have moved on and proceeded with the case. However, I felt strongly that it cannot be right that a pre-colonial wording in our Civil Code which allows for the importation of English Law into Saint Lucia, can override our Constitution which says that only our Parliament can make laws for our Country.

The Privy Council has just ruled that the Court of Appeal was right and in matters relating to contracts and torts it is the laws of England that are enacted in their Parliament that applies.

I strongly think it is an unfortunate decision for our Country and it undermines the legal jurisprudence of Saint Lucia and indeed exposes lawyers in Saint Lucia to professional negligence law suits for advising their clients on what they thought was the proper law of the land.

Moreso, Saint Lucians would not even know which laws apply to Saint Lucia as they would have to research English Laws each time, they feel aggrieved to know if they have any legal grounds for action.

The decision cannot be appealed any further and as such all that is left to be done is await the advice of the Attorney General on the corrective measures that needs to be taken to ensure that the law of Saint Lucia is certain and not left with such ambiguity.

I believe that our Constitution is supreme and that we have the sole right to make laws for ourselves.

It is left to Saint Lucia to regain an important aspect of our independence in making it beyond any doubt, that our law as an independent and sovereign state, would always apply.

As it relates to my case against Allen Chastanet, I will be consulting my lawyers on the next steps in the Hearing.

SOURCE: Parliamentary Representative for Castries South. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information Dr. Ernest Hilaire.