Vexatious litigation is legal action that is brought, regardless of its merits, solely to harass or subdue an adversary. Filing vexatious litigation is considered an abuse of the judicial process.
By PNG Echo
Opposition leader, Belden Namah, through his lawyer, Alois Jerewai, yesterday made an application to the court (Sakora J) to vary the conditions of a consent order made on 20 January in the court of Justice Cathy Davani that protected all parties to the proceedings from arrest until the court case was decided.
It’s the latest salvo in a case that has little to do with justice and everything to do with using the courts to create political instability in order to effect Namah’s political ambitions that he has been unable to realise through the correct channels: the parliament.
How long will the PNG courts entertain his behaviour?
Late last year, Namah was the driving force behind members of the RPNGC swearing out a warrant for the arrest of the Prime Minister for his alleged part in the ‘Paraka’ case.
The Prime Minister’s legal team had little trouble getting the courts to set the warrant aside as it contained egregious legal flaws.
There were serious repercussions. The police officers had acted in direct contravention of the orders of the Police Commissioner, Tom Kulunga.
Compounding the felony was that Namah wrote to Kulunga, in a manner perceived as containing a substantial threat. Kulunga ordered the arrest of Namah.
Namah’s lawyers obtained an interim order to stop the arrest, pending a scheduled court appearance the next day (20 January) where the court was hearing an action brought by Namah against the dismissal of the police officers as well as against his own prosecution.
What a waste of time.
Before the court date, Namah had called a press conference to broadcast his intentions – shame his lawyers weren’t so diligent. They’d neglected to serve the actual parties with notices.
In court that day, it was the first time all parties had heard that Jerewai had withdrawn the old proceedings and filed new ones on the preceding Friday.
Justice Davani adjourned the case for three weeks (returnable on February 11) to give time for notices to be served. She awarded costs against Namah.
Justice Davani ordered that the relevant parties to the proceedings step outside in an attempt to come to an agreement over the state of the arrest warrants. All parties did agree that they should be stayed until the case was heard.
Finance Minister, James Marape and Treasurer, Don Polye, not originally parties to the new proceedings, applied to be added – and they were.
Hence Marape and Polye who were at imminent risk of arrest, not from Namah’s prosecution, but as a result of the investigations of the legitimate investigating agency, Task Force Sweep, now had found a safe haven.
It makes you wonder whose side Namah was on.
See article: The devastating import of Namah’s court case.
What’s more, the return date and time, February 11 at 1.30pm, coincided with the new session of parliament that was due to sit that day at 2pm.
Did you know, an MP cannot be arrested while parliament is in session? Yet another ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ for all concerned.
The entirety of this complex litigation was instigated by an overly ambitious arrest warrant issued on the urging of an overly ambitious politician. This was started as a stunt and it continues to be.
And that’s in direct accordance with the description of vexatious litigation.
Lawyers’ negligence – or what?
Had Namah’s legal team been as gung-ho as Namah himself and prepared themselves the case would have been heard on 20 January.
The new date of February 11 was further adjourned when counsel were absent due to the funeral of Lawyer Peter Donigi in Wewak. Adjourned until this week.
And now, we have this latest reversal where Jerewai seems to have realised his error and seeks to alter consent orders in order to remove Marape and Polye from the proceedings.
If he’s successful, there will be little to stop Task Force Sweep from going ahead with the plans they had before the ‘Namah factor’ started to create nuisance.
However, according to my research, this will be a difficult task for Jerewai to effect unless he can prove some sort of fraud, as consent orders rely on the agreement of all parties and effectively take way the opportunity for a judge to independently verify or adjudicate issues.
Seems it’s probably too late now, so, why did Jerewai consent in the first place?
What’s more, proceedings have now been delayed again awaiting a date when Justice Davani can hear them (Justice Sakora reverted the matter back to Justice Davani at a date yet to be decided.)
Clearly the good judge is busy – someone should order that Namah stops wasting the courts time with this vexatious litigation.