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Speaker ordered to pay legal fees for ‘unreasonable’ court action

Speaker ordered to pay legal fees for ‘unreasonable’ court action

The High Court has ordered House of Assembly Speaker, Julian Willock, to pay the legal fees for the three Commission of Inquiry (COI) attorneys against whom filed a court injunction and later withdrew.

Justice Adrian Jack made that ruling in a judgment dated September 28.

“There is no reason why the COI should be out of pocket for having to defend Willock’s claim,” said Justice Jack before turning his attention to Attorney General Dawn Smith who Willock also targeted in his failed court crusade.

“As to the costs of the Attorney General, she seeks those costs [for the Speaker to pay]. I see nothing unreasonable in her so doing. She, no doubt, has a limited budget. There is no reason why her budget should be whittled down defending claims conducted unreasonably,” Justice Jack reasoned.

He continued: “In the current case I have held that Mr Willock acted unreasonably in issuing the proceedings and then discontinuing them at the first indication that there might be procedural problems with the case … Accordingly, I shall order that Mr Willock pay the defendants’ costs.”

Speaker could pay up to $121K

Willock had filed an injunction weeks ago against three of the COI’s attorneys – Rhea Harrikisson, Andrew King and Bilal Rawat – from continuing as participants unless and until they were properly called to the bar in the BVI, in accordance with the law.

Willock later withdrew the matter after failing to get the AG’s permission to move the matter forward in the High Court. After a failed last-minute attempt to get the permission he needed, Willock then sought to take legal action against AG Smith.

That also failed.

The three main defendants from the COI claimed that they had incurred $71,388.59 in expenses, while AG Smith assessed her own costs in the matter at $6,084.00.

Willock must now pay those sums. However, he might have to pay more if the court accepts new developments that the COI attorneys’ legal fees have climbed to $115,348.50.

It is not immediately clear whether taxpayers will have to shoulder the financial burden of Willock’s latest legal faux pas.


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