We refer to queries raised in the media questioning whether the Office of the Leader of Opposition can challenge recent Government actions in court.
The office of the Leader of Opposition acknowledges and appreciates the matter in concern.
As rightly pointed out, the current leader of Opposition is no stranger to taking up matters of public interest in our courts and the public can be rest assured that this option is being considered in light of the current pressing Government actions affecting public interest.
Unfortunately, instituting judicial review proceedings is not as straight forward as expected. To give rise to the High Court’s jurisdiction, there are legal tests and requirements that must be met before the High Court can hear a case.
The test for legal standing and certainty in a statutory power in question are but two of the many hurdles that must be properly considered before decisions are taken on whether the Opposition can take up a case or not.
While the office of the Leader of Opposition is a public office, it does not have any legal mandate to take up public interest cases. This leaves it to the courts to decide legal standing making it difficult in certain circumstances. Other countries have dealt with this issue by vesting that standing on certain public offices. Sadly, that is not the case in Solomon Islands.
One good example would be the ‘no job, no jab’ policy. As much the Opposition Office would like to take it up, the Opposition Leader does not have the legal mandate to do so because of the fact that he is not directly implicated on the matter concerned.
Be that as it may, the Opposition Office has been pushing to secure government budgetary support for public interest cases. Regrettably, these efforts have fallen on deaf ears. The issue of cost has been an ongoing concern for the office since the Opposition Office had always been operating under Parliament.
The current Leader and previous Opposition Leader’s have had to foot legal cost from their own pockets. The Opposition Office has over the years requested for autonomy as its financial operations still currently falls under Parliament making operational obligations quite difficult.
Nevertheless, the Opposition Office would like to assure the public that these limitations will not deter this office from discharging its duties in keeping the Government in check and playing an active role as a watchdog on behalf of our people.
The Opposition Office will continue to play its role within the bounds of our laws through Parliament and other accessible avenues.