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There was a National Song

Denzil Edgecombe

Denzil Edgecombe

by Bennette Roach

Mr. Denzil Edgecombe had composed and had his song selected as a ‘national song’. He now has fourteen days to file his substantive claim for a judicial review, after successfully appealing Mr. Justice Albert Redhead’s ruling denying him leave to seek judicial review of his legitimate expectation of the song ‘Montserrat My Country’ to be Montserrat’s territorial song, referred to at the time when it was selected as the ‘National Song.’

Early in the week Edgecombe received news of his successful appeal to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal where it was held: “…granting leave to apply for judicial review in respect of some but not all of the grounds set out in the application to the court below; setting aside the (Justice Redhead) decision of the court below and ordering that costs of the application be costs in the proceedings below.

Mr. Edgecombe had applied for leave to bring judicial review proceedings in which he would seek both interim and substantive relief. These included (i) a stay of the selection process for the national song including ratification; (ii) declarations that his song is the national song, that the refusal to recognize his song as the national song was an abuse of power of the Premier, that the Premier’s refusal to acknowledge his song was unreasonable and irrational, and that he had a legitimate expectation that his song would be ratified as the national song. He also sought a declaration that the selection of the song “Motherland” was void and an order for damages and various heads of consequential relief.

Reuben T Meade - IMG_1373

Former Premier Reuben T Meade

Justice of Appeal [Ag.] John Carrington, QC wrote the decision 39 clause Judgment with the concurrence of Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, Chief Justice, and Davidson Kelvin Baptiste, Justice of Appeal. The appeal was heard in Montserrat on June 23, 2014 by the three Justices and the decision delivered in St. Kitts on October 27, 2014.

The legal dispute over the Montserrat’s song began even then following the publication on December 23, 2011, when TMR published on the front page an article “There is a National Song”. As the article noted: “It has been for several years this topic about a Montserrat National Song has surfaced time and time again. Very often at functions when the singing of an anthem seems appropriate and it is obvious that the organisers, be they from within the official walls of government or otherwise, the British National anthem would be overlooked, and in its place the program would show ‘A Patriotic Song’. But very rarely would the song be the National song that was for whatever reason has been undecorated since 1995 after being selected and approved.

“Now the topic has surfaced again and at the possible highest level where the Hon. Premier Meade while in the UK attending the OTCC meetings in late November, was enlisting the support of the Montserrat Diaspora with the creation of national awards and symbols.”

It was at that time that Mr. Edgecombe had sought to contact the Premier and reminded him, a national song which bears the title, “Montserrat My Country” by Denzil Edgecombe was selected by committee set up by the NPP (National Progressive Party) government of 1991-96 which was led by then Chief Minister Reuben T Meade.

He expressed surprise to the Premier by email and in a letter, “…after hearing you speak about the national song on several occasions, I am truly confused…While I commend your personal commitment to promoting national pride, I have held, over the years since Montserrat My Country won the competition, that to declare and to promote the national song is the proper function of government…I really was dismayed and disappointed to hear you declare that we don’t. I cannot think of any reason why one would seek to take away the honor bestowed on me personally when my song was chosen as the national song of Montserrat…”

By this time in 2013 the matter gathered more attention and concern when the Premier in a ZJB broadcast said: ““I have given a commitment that by next year we will have those Orders in place…we need to have from you, a contribution to the selection, to the writing, to the composition of a song, which we will call our national song…” Eventually the government of Montserrat commissioned a competition for the selection of another national song.

According to Edgecombe, the Premier is yet to respond to any of his attempt to communicate with him. When the Premier called a press conference to launch the committee and search for national awards to include a ‘national song’, I reminded him that with regards to the National song there was the question of there being a national song selected and acclaimed during his tenure and as a result of his own directives, that ignoring that can result in litigation. He ignored and remarked that anyone is free to take legal action on any matter, as “you (Bennette) have done before.”

Edgecombe filed his request in July 2013. In the Judgment it is recounted that “The applicant seeks permission to appeal the decision of Mr. Justice Redhead in the High Court dated 25th September 2013, in which the learned judge refused to grant him leave to bring proceedings for judicial review in respect of the process for the selection of a national song for Montserrat, which he claims was due to culminate in a vote of the legislative assembly for the Territory on the ratification of a song called “Motherland” as the national song.”

Edgecombe’s argument was grounded on the alleged errors of the court below in: (i) refusing leave where there was an arguable case that the applicant’s legitimate expectation that his composition, “Montserrat My Country”, would be the national song of Montserrat was being frustrated by the respondents and (ii) finding that there had been delay in making the application.

In the 16 page document with the judgment of 39 clauses, the judges noted that Edgecombe relied on the grounds: (i) that his song had already been selected as the national song; and (ii) that he had a legitimate expectation that his song would be officially launched and promoted publicly and taught in schools as the national song as promised in 1996; (iii) that he had a legitimate expectation that his composition would be ratified; and (iv) that the Premier in refusing to recognise and/or ratify the song acted unfairly, arbitrarily and/or irrationally and unreasonably.

However he was denied at the High Court after a short hearing by the Hon. Justice Albert Redhead on the ground generally, that Mr. Edgecombe delayed and that there was no issue to be tried.

Edgecombe who had initiated action without legal representation was represented at the appeal hearing by Dr. David Dorsett of Antigua, while

Ms K. Reid and Ms Amelia Daley for the Respondents The Hon. Premier and the Hon. Attorney General.

There appears to be a preponderance of evidence where the said Premier himself boasted on record about the ‘national song’s existence and the achievement of his Government numerous times, when he remembered that the process started back in 1993

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Denzil Edgecombe

Denzil Edgecombe

by Bennette Roach

Mr. Denzil Edgecombe had composed and had his song selected as a ‘national song’. He now has fourteen days to file his substantive claim for a judicial review, after successfully appealing Mr. Justice Albert Redhead’s ruling denying him leave to seek judicial review of his legitimate expectation of the song ‘Montserrat My Country’ to be Montserrat’s territorial song, referred to at the time when it was selected as the ‘National Song.’

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Early in the week Edgecombe received news of his successful appeal to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal where it was held: “…granting leave to apply for judicial review in respect of some but not all of the grounds set out in the application to the court below; setting aside the (Justice Redhead) decision of the court below and ordering that costs of the application be costs in the proceedings below.

Mr. Edgecombe had applied for leave to bring judicial review proceedings in which he would seek both interim and substantive relief. These included (i) a stay of the selection process for the national song including ratification; (ii) declarations that his song is the national song, that the refusal to recognize his song as the national song was an abuse of power of the Premier, that the Premier’s refusal to acknowledge his song was unreasonable and irrational, and that he had a legitimate expectation that his song would be ratified as the national song. He also sought a declaration that the selection of the song “Motherland” was void and an order for damages and various heads of consequential relief.

Reuben T Meade - IMG_1373

Former Premier Reuben T Meade

Justice of Appeal [Ag.] John Carrington, QC wrote the decision 39 clause Judgment with the concurrence of Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, Chief Justice, and Davidson Kelvin Baptiste, Justice of Appeal. The appeal was heard in Montserrat on June 23, 2014 by the three Justices and the decision delivered in St. Kitts on October 27, 2014.

The legal dispute over the Montserrat’s song began even then following the publication on December 23, 2011, when TMR published on the front page an article “There is a National Song”. As the article noted: “It has been for several years this topic about a Montserrat National Song has surfaced time and time again. Very often at functions when the singing of an anthem seems appropriate and it is obvious that the organisers, be they from within the official walls of government or otherwise, the British National anthem would be overlooked, and in its place the program would show ‘A Patriotic Song’. But very rarely would the song be the National song that was for whatever reason has been undecorated since 1995 after being selected and approved.

“Now the topic has surfaced again and at the possible highest level where the Hon. Premier Meade while in the UK attending the OTCC meetings in late November, was enlisting the support of the Montserrat Diaspora with the creation of national awards and symbols.”

It was at that time that Mr. Edgecombe had sought to contact the Premier and reminded him, a national song which bears the title, “Montserrat My Country” by Denzil Edgecombe was selected by committee set up by the NPP (National Progressive Party) government of 1991-96 which was led by then Chief Minister Reuben T Meade.

He expressed surprise to the Premier by email and in a letter, “…after hearing you speak about the national song on several occasions, I am truly confused…While I commend your personal commitment to promoting national pride, I have held, over the years since Montserrat My Country won the competition, that to declare and to promote the national song is the proper function of government…I really was dismayed and disappointed to hear you declare that we don’t. I cannot think of any reason why one would seek to take away the honor bestowed on me personally when my song was chosen as the national song of Montserrat…”

By this time in 2013 the matter gathered more attention and concern when the Premier in a ZJB broadcast said: ““I have given a commitment that by next year we will have those Orders in place…we need to have from you, a contribution to the selection, to the writing, to the composition of a song, which we will call our national song…” Eventually the government of Montserrat commissioned a competition for the selection of another national song.

According to Edgecombe, the Premier is yet to respond to any of his attempt to communicate with him. When the Premier called a press conference to launch the committee and search for national awards to include a ‘national song’, I reminded him that with regards to the National song there was the question of there being a national song selected and acclaimed during his tenure and as a result of his own directives, that ignoring that can result in litigation. He ignored and remarked that anyone is free to take legal action on any matter, as “you (Bennette) have done before.”

Edgecombe filed his request in July 2013. In the Judgment it is recounted that “The applicant seeks permission to appeal the decision of Mr. Justice Redhead in the High Court dated 25th September 2013, in which the learned judge refused to grant him leave to bring proceedings for judicial review in respect of the process for the selection of a national song for Montserrat, which he claims was due to culminate in a vote of the legislative assembly for the Territory on the ratification of a song called “Motherland” as the national song.”

Edgecombe’s argument was grounded on the alleged errors of the court below in: (i) refusing leave where there was an arguable case that the applicant’s legitimate expectation that his composition, “Montserrat My Country”, would be the national song of Montserrat was being frustrated by the respondents and (ii) finding that there had been delay in making the application.

In the 16 page document with the judgment of 39 clauses, the judges noted that Edgecombe relied on the grounds: (i) that his song had already been selected as the national song; and (ii) that he had a legitimate expectation that his song would be officially launched and promoted publicly and taught in schools as the national song as promised in 1996; (iii) that he had a legitimate expectation that his composition would be ratified; and (iv) that the Premier in refusing to recognise and/or ratify the song acted unfairly, arbitrarily and/or irrationally and unreasonably.

However he was denied at the High Court after a short hearing by the Hon. Justice Albert Redhead on the ground generally, that Mr. Edgecombe delayed and that there was no issue to be tried.

Edgecombe who had initiated action without legal representation was represented at the appeal hearing by Dr. David Dorsett of Antigua, while

Ms K. Reid and Ms Amelia Daley for the Respondents The Hon. Premier and the Hon. Attorney General.

There appears to be a preponderance of evidence where the said Premier himself boasted on record about the ‘national song’s existence and the achievement of his Government numerous times, when he remembered that the process started back in 1993