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Acting AG rules Deputy Speaker can preside over motion to exempt Speaker

Acting AG rules Deputy Speaker can preside over motion to exempt Speaker

Acting Attorney General in the Virgin Islands (VI) House of Assembly (HoA), Ms Jo-Ann Williams-Roberts has ruled that Deputy Speaker Neville A. Smith (AL) can preside over the motion to exempt House Speaker Hon Julian Willock from paying legal fees in the discontinued case against the three Commission of Inquiry (CoI) lawyers working in the territory without being called to the local Bar.

The issue of whether the Deputy Speaker can preside over the case was raised by Opposition Leader, Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) at yesterday’s November 1, 2021, 12th Sitting of the 3rd Session of the 4th House of Assembly at Save the Seed Energy Centre.

Hon Penn had inquired whether Hon Smith can sit in place of the Speaker, given the case against the CoI lawyers accused of illegally practising law in the VI, had Hon Smith as a co-claimant, along with Speaker Willock.

Hon Marlon A. Penn has inquired whether Hon Neville A. Smith can sit in place of the Speaker, given the case against the CoI lawyers accused of illegally practicing law in the VI, had Hon Smith as a co-claimant along with Speaker Willock on behalf of the House of Assembly.


Deputy & Speaker named in case - Hon Penn


According to Hon Penn, “Since the motion in question, you are also named as a co-claimant on behalf of the House of Assembly with the Speaker, are you in a position to adjudicate this process, considering that you are a party of the same claim that was made in the courts?

The Attorney General could probably assist this House in giving us an opinion [on] the Deputy Speaker who is also a party of the Claim.”

Hon Penn called for clarity before the motion was moved and debates begin, given the circumstances surrounding the case.

Acting Attorney General, Ms William-Roberts said although the case concerns both the Speaker and his Deputy, the resolution in question only speaks to the Speaker and not his Deputy, “So I see no issue,” she said.

The Fahie Government is seeking to have the HoA Speaker, Hon Willock, be exempted from paying legal fees in his personal capacity, after taking a case against the three CoI lawyers who were accused of illegally practising law in the territory.

The HoA is in recess until Wednesday, November 3, 2021.

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