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No show so acting PM gets $3,000 legal bill
Acting Prime Minister Suruj Rambachan was slapped with a $3,000 legal bill as well as a stern warning from a High Court judge after he and his attorneys failed to appear in court for his defamation lawsuit against his former Cabinet colleague Jack Warner. Works and Infrastructure Minister Rambachan was scheduled to appear in court around midday, when the first management conference in the case was due to begin before Justice James Aboud.
However, when the case was called neither Rambachan nor his attorneys appeared before Aboud, who then stood down the case to give them more time. When the case was recalled almost an hour later, the parties still had not appeared prompting Aboud to penalise them. Warner sat silently at the back of the court for the hearing. “They were notified and still they are not here. So are they wasting my time?” Aboud said, before ordering Rambachan to pay Warner’s legal fees for the short hearing. He then adjourned the case to May 26.
Rambachan is acting in the post until Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar returns from attending Caricom’s 25th inter-sessional meeting in St Vincent tomorrow. At a previous hearing in mid-January, Warner was forced to pay Rambachan $14,000 in legal costs after Warner applied for an extension to file his defence which was eventually granted. Warner’s lawyer Dereck Balliram yesterday told the court his client would be relying on a “two-pronged” defence of justification and qualified privilege.