British Virgin Islands

Friday, Jan 22, 2021

HoA seeking 'legal advice' if it can reprimand Governor

AG Baba F. Aziz told HoA he is yet to fully research subject

With uncertainty over whether the House of Assembly (HoA) of the British Virgin Islands can actually reprimand the sitting Governor, His Excellency Augustus J.U. Jaspert, by way of a motion brought by senior legislator Hon Julian Fraser RA, the House is now seeking legal advice on the way forward.

As such, the motion to reprimand Mr Jaspert for his handling of the BVI Airways Audit Report has now been placed on delay with Auditor General Hon Baba F. Aziz saying that while the House has the power to make resolutions, it may not be legally binding in the 'outside world'.

HoA has power to bring motion - AG

"I reckon that this House of Assembly has power of debate and of speech that is found in the privileges of the House and the power of speech and of debate is also to be found in our Standing Orders. That is why a member of this House is able to bring any motion in this House."

The AG continued, "So, in terms of a member bringing a motion in the House on any subject, I am not here to suggest that this House has no power to decide on any issues that is brought by way of a motion."

He said; however, any resolution makes as a starting point in the House is binding on its members, but in the outside world, it may not have legal implications.

"It may for record purposes be a wish or a decision of the House on its member, that is what I would say on what resolutions normally are," Mr Aziz said.

I need a legal input - Premier Fahie

The issues of the legality of motion were first raised in the House by Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) who wanted to know if the motion to reprimand the Governor would be supported by the VI Constitution and the powers of the House before he would debate on the subject.

The Attorney General noted he will have to research the subject some more based on a request made by the Speaker Hon Julian Willock, who also indicated that he has since sought independent legal counsel on the matter from two legal authorities.

According to the Premier, "I need to hear input and opinion, a legal opinion... to know if the motion has the substance in terms of going ahead."

"Are we in an exercise where there is no consequences? Are we in an exercise we should not be in? Are we in an exercise that is just a talk shop?" Hon Fahie asked.


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