Slip rule applications are rarely successful.

By PNG Echo

Justice Derek Hartshorn - Leave denied.
Justice Derek Hartshorn – Leave denied

That the leave sort by lawyers for the Prime Minister to apply the ‘Slip Rule’ to the recent Supreme Court ruling (lifting the injunction on arrests and harassment of the Prime Minister and his associates) was not granted today, is not surprising.

I don’t believe there is any case which has actually been granted leave to make a Slip Rule Application since the rules were changed in 2012 requiring that leave be granted.

What’s more, in this particular case the Justices who handed down the decision to lift the stay (Hartshorn, Makail, Sawong) are the ones that heard the leave application and would be naturally hostile to an application that suggests they erred.

A more satisfactory outcome would have been to have heard it argued before Judges with no pre-conceived ideas about the matters at hand – which, I concede, is becoming increasingly difficult in Papua New Guinea at the moment.

Interestingly, although the Justices stated that they would give an ex tempore decision, what they ended up doing was reading from a lengthy and widely-researched judgment that quoted extensive case law – including cases from Australia.

Nevertheless one of the PNG cases that counsel for the Prime Minister put forward in her submissions, MRA & Ramu Nico v Koroma (2015), the Justices resolutely refused to follow.

A decision that was 5 years in the making was discounted by this bench of the Supreme Court in less than an hour.  Indecent haste?

Patently, this case had been decided even before counsel made its submission in court this morning. There is little likelihood that this judgment could have been researched and written in the lunch break. It had been pre-judged (the verb from where we get the noun prejudice).

In practical terms, it means that their previous decision is upheld and the PM, his legal team and other people covered by the order can be arrested.

That doesn’t mean they should be.

For the police to be running around willy-nilly arresting people just because they can, is madness. Only in Papua New Guinea!

Citizens and others residing in Papua new Guinea need to feel secure that the law protects them, not declares open season on them – as has been suggested by many unrestrained commentators.

I believe that the stay order on the arrest of the Prime Minister on the Paraka matter is still extant – the court has not lifted this.

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