Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 25, 2023 (SKNIS): The Nevis Island Administration (Civil Proceedings) Bill, 2023, which is a Bill to provide for the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) to sue and be sued in its capacity as an organ of the Crown and for related matters, was successfully passed in the Federal Parliament on Thursday, May 25, 2023.
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Garth Wilkin who led the debate on the Bill, described it as significantly important, as it clarified the Crown-related civil proceedings procedures in the Federation.
“Madame Speaker, the Bill is short and simple. However, Madame Speaker, it is an important Bill as it was drafted as a collaborative effort between the Attorney-General’s Office and the Legal Department of the Premier’s Office,” said Attorney-General Wilkin. “The judicial arm of Government has adjudged that the executive arm of Government has a limitation, which wasn’t and therefore must be, rectified by the legislative arm of Government. This debate, therefore, Madame Speaker, is a perfect lesson for our people in the fundamentals of Government and how the three branches of Government can affect each other, in a practical way.”
Attorney-General Wilkin said that the Bill is relevant given an August 2022 judgment written by the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Dame Janice M. Pereira, in a court case styled Nevis Island Administration versus Ocean Reef Resorts Limited.
“Chief Justice Pereira issued a judgment which concluded that I quote, ‘the NIA has no legal standing to sue and be sued in civil proceedings given the applicability of the Crown Proceedings Act to Nevis’ he said. “Madame Speaker, this Bill, therefore, seeks to directly fill the legal gap identified by the Learned Chief Justice, nothing more, nothing less.”
Mover of the Bill, Attorney-General Wilkin, clarified that the passage of the Bill “does not change the Constitution” and is a “simple change to the Crown Proceedings framework, to clarify…that the NIA, as an organ of the Crown, can sue and be sued with respect to the matters within the exclusive domain of Nevis.”
The Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which is a Bill to amend the Crown Proceedings Act, Cap 5.06, was also passed on Thursday, May 25, 2023.