NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (May 25, 2023) – Two pieces of legislation deemed critical to the day to day functioning of the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) were passed during the May 25, 2023 sitting of the National Assembly.
The first bill passed, the Nevis Island Administration (Civil Proceedings) Bill, 2023, gives the NIA the power to sue and be sued in its own name in civil matters, whereas prior, civil litigation against the NIA had to be served on the Attorney General’s Office in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The second, the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Bill, 2023, is “an analogous amendment to the Crown Proceedings Act to reflect the terms and provisions of the Nevis Island Administration (Civil Proceedings) Act”, according to Attorney General, Hon. Garth Wilkin, the mover of both bills.
Lending his support to the Nevis Island Administration (Civil Proceedings) Bill, 2023, Premier of Nevis, Hon. Mark Brantley, parliamentary representative for Nevis 9, highlighted the importance of the legislative amendments and the mitigating impact on both the NIA and the Federal Government.
Premier Brantley explained that as a result of the August 2022 decision by the Court of Appeal in the matter of the Ocean Reef Resorts Limited and the NIA that the NIA had no standing to sue or be sued in civil matters, “Nevis now has to come to Basseterre for a fiat-which means permission- from the Attorney General” in order to deal with those matters.
“I am persuaded that the Court did not take into account the implications of what it was saying, and in essentially overruling decades of authority it did not contemplate well what does this mean for the functioning, day to day, of the Nevis Island Administration, and what does it mean for the Federal Government and the Attorney General…This legislation is really seeking to correct the mischief that has now been created in terms of the practical and legal implications of this judgment, and in a real way to restore us to what was, prior to the judgment of August 17, 2022. So prior to August 17, 2022, we had an established, well-known, well-respected approach to these matters, and this legislation therefore seeks to reset, to put us back to what was, and what has always been accepted…
“Today we are seeking to solve a problem and put the matter beyond doubt, which brings comfort to all those who have dealings with the Nevis Island Administration, that if for some reason things were to go awry that the fundamental power and the authority to sue and be sued has now been preserved.”
Hon. Alexis Jeffers, parliamentary representative for Nevis 10, and Hon. Latoya Jones, Opposition Senator and Deputy Speaker, also voiced their support for the Bill. Hon. Eric Evelyn, Deputy Premier of Nevis and parliamentary representative for Nevis 11, signaled his support during the quorum.
Similarly the members of parliament from Nevis also indicated their support for the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Bill, 2023. All members present on the Government benches supported both bills as well.