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Wheatley on Willock court ruling: ‘Not everything in law is objective’

Wheatley on Willock court ruling: ‘Not everything in law is objective’

Deputy Premier, Dr Natalio Wheatley, has argued that everything is not objective in law and suggested that allowances should be made for differences of opinion on court judgments.

At the time, Dr Wheatley was arguing in support of a motion to have the House of Assembly (HOA) form a select committee to consider options for exempting House Speaker Julian Willock from payment of legal costs ordered by the High Court.

“We know that some judges have one view and others have another view. We like to look at it like everything is objective in law—no it’s not,” Dr Wheatley insisted.

“One judge looks at the particular facts, they listen to how it’s argued and based on how these facts are argued, they come to a particular conclusion,” Dr Wheatley added.

Did Willock get sound legal advice?

Someone else, he continued, may come to another conclusion altogether.

“Without having the benefit of all the facts, I will say cautiously, that it is quite possible that the Speaker could have erred,” Dr Wheatley said about the Speaker being on the wrong side of the issue.

However, he questioned whether the Speaker may have been the recipient of sound legal advice and said top legal minds should weigh in on the court’s judgment which found the Speaker liable for the court fees in his aborted injunction.

The Speaker was represented in the court matter by the local law firm, Silk Legal.

Speaker withdrew injunction to avoid bigger fees?

Willock had filed an injunction against three attorneys for the Commission of Inquiry (COI) but later withdrew after failing to get the required permission of the Attorney General (AG) to proceed with the matter.

Dr Wheatley posited that Willock may have withdrawn when he did to avoid ending up with a legal bill higher than what he’s currently ordered to pay.

“Given the risk in a case like this, given the fact that you can incur more fees, it’s quite risky. So, I can see why the Speaker would’ve withdrawn the injunction. You could end up being in for a lot more than the $120,000, or whatever it is,“ the Deputy Premier said.

In the meantime, the aforementioned motion to set up a special committee has successfully passed. The three-man committee has up to two months to effectively decide whether to set aside the court’s ruling and have taxpayers pay Willock’s fees OR uphold the court’s judgement on the matter.


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