Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
NORTH EAST St Ann Member of Parliament (MP) Shahine Robinson has seven days to respond to a bankruptcy notice which was served on her on Tuesday.
The bankruptcy notice is seeking to compel Robinson to pay legal costs of $15.3 million, which stems from the legal battle in the Supreme Court over her dual-citizenship status.
Robinson, who was booted from Parliament in 2010 after she was found to be ineligible to be elected to the House of Representatives when she won her seat in 2007, could be disqualified from continuing to sit as MP if she is declared bankrupt.
Elector Manley Bowen, who filed the election petition against her in 2007, is planning to start bankruptcy proceedings against Robinson if she does not pay the money by next Tuesday.
COULD BE DISQUALIFIED
Attorney-at-law Raymond Clough explained yesterday that if Robinson does not pay within the specified time and is taken to court and declared bankrupt, then she can no longer sit in Parliament.
He said the trustee in bankruptcy would then take control of all her assets and sell them to pay the debt.
Last April, the registrar of the Supreme Court, Rosemarie Harris, conducted a taxation of costs and ordered Robinson to pay $15.3 million, which includes indemnity costs. Interest was awarded at six per cent on the amount.
Bowen's lawyers, Abe Dabdoub and Clough, who were instructed by the law firm Knight Junor Samuels, had presented documents to justify the bill.
After Robinson filed her notice of intention in September 2010 not to pursue the election petition, the Supreme Court declared the North East St Ann seat vacant and ordered indemnity costs against Robinson.
The court had described Robinson's defence as an abuse of the process of the court. Indemnity costs are usually awarded in cases where the court finds that a litigant has abused the process of the court or has not come to court with clean hands.
Bowen had contended in the election petition that Robinson, the Jamaica Labour Party candidate, had American citizenship when she was nominated for the September 2007 general election.
Robinson has since renounced her American citizenship.
A by-election was held in the constituency in December 2010 and Robinson emerged the winner. She was also successful in the general election last year.