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Shahine saved!

Supreme Court overturns bankruptcy notice against MP

Thursday, February 07, 2013    

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NORTH East St Ann Member of Parliament Shahine Robinson yesterday won a major victory in the Supreme Court and avoided expulsion from the House of Representatives if she was declared bankrupt.

The decision was immediately hailed by her Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

"The party reaffirms its support for Mrs Robinson, who is the duly elected Member of Parliament for North East St Ann... she will remain as such for the foreseeable future," JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang said in a press release.

Robinson's victory relates to her legal team's success in having a bankruptcy notice against her overturned.

The notice was obtained by People's National Party (PNP) member Manley Bowen in the Supreme Court last December.

According to the notice, Robinson was given a certain time by which to pay over to Bowen $15.3 million in legal fees or be declared bankrupt. Had Robinson not been successful in having the notice set aside, she would have been disqualified from Parliament in keeping with the law.

The legal cost, which was assessed by the Supreme Court against Robinson in April 2011, is a result of her loss in an election petition that was brought against her in 2007 by Bowen.

Bowen had filed the election petition against Robinson following her victory at the September 2007 general election in which the JLP was swept into power after 18 years in opposition.

The election petition challenged Robinson's eligibility to sit in the House of Representatives on the grounds that she held US citizenship. Robinson contested the claim but subsequently admitted to her US citizenship after Bowen provided proof to back his claim.

The court disqualified Robinson in September 2010 and the North East St Ann seat was declared vacant the following month. She subsequently regained her seat in a by-election in December that year.

Following her disqualification, the court ordered cost against her plus interest.

The $15 million in legal costs was later assessed but Robinson subsequently appealed the assessment. A ruling is now pending in her appeal. It was during this time that Bowen obtained the bankruptcy notice.

Yesterday, in striking down Bowen's bankruptcy notice, Justice Leighton Pusey called the action an abuse of the process of the court and awarded costs in favour of Robinson.

Robinson was represented by Ransford Braham, QC and Nesta-Claire Smith-Hunter, instructed by Ernest A Smith and Company.

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