The Trinidad and Tobago High Court has struck out one of the election petitions brought by the Opposition United National Congress, UNC, in its challenge against its defeat in two electoral districts following the August 14, 2023 local government election.

The judgement was delivered on Monday by Justice Frank Seepersad.

He found that attorneys for the UNC’s losing candidate for the district of Arima Northeast, Jairzinho Rigsby, had made a fatal error when they failed to name Kim Garcia, the PNM’s successful candidate, as a respondent in the proceedings.

Rigsby had brought the petition against the returning officer for the district of Arima Northeast and the Chief Election Officer.

In his ruling during a virtual hearing, Justice Seepersad said it had been established at both the High and Appeal Courts since 2015 that when it came to election petitions, whether general or municipal, the elected candidate had to be served with a notice of the petition.

He said the petition as filed by attorneys for Rigsby was “hopelessly flawed” in that it failed to comply with the mandatory statutory requirements to have joined Garcia as a respondent in accordance with the process as outlined under Section 110 of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA).

Justice Seepersad added that this error was “fatal” to the claimant’s petition.