Judges of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) have granted an adjournment of the matter of Abel “Checko” Jno Baptiste vs Dr. Philbert Aaron, to the February 2017 sitting of the court, in Dominica.
Jno Baptiste, a police officer and calypsonian who was slapped with a $130,000 penalty by High Court Judge Errol Thomas after he failed to file a defence, in a defamatory suit filed by Dr. Aaron, was given until August 22, 2016 to file and serve his defence against paying the quantum of money he was ordered to pay by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), failing which the appeal shall stand “dismissed.”
When the case came up for hearing yesterday Tuesday, “Checko’s” lawyer, Singoalla B. Williams appeared to be struggling with the flu and the court decided to adjourn the matter. Dr. Aaron was absent, and was said to be on official state business in China. He is represented by Attorney Noelize Knight-Didier of the Harris and Harris law firm. Aaron, who is Dominica’s Ambassador to ALBA, and Public Relations Officer of the ruling Dominica Labour Party, claimed that a song penned and sung by Checko in 2011, entitled “Bug Her,” had defamed him.
On January 16, 2013, Dr. Aaron, through his lawyer Noelize Knight-Didier filed a claim against Checko, claiming that the defendant libelled and slandered him in the song. In the statement of claim, they requested damages for libel and slander, for aggravated and exemplary damages, an injunction restraining the defendant from further publishing the offending words and or any other words defamatory of Aaron, and cost.
Checko filed an acknowledgment of service on February 13, 2013, but he filed no defence within the prescribed time for filing. And on March 6, 2013 Aaron requested an entry of judgment in default, and that was obtained on March 13, 2013. A subsequent application to set aside the judgment in default was denied.
In handing down his decision, Justice Errol Thomas awarded $75,000 for general damages, $50,000 for aggravated damages and $5,000 for exemplary damages “on account of the remix of the song, because of his desire to win the Road March title.”
Abel "Checko" Jno Baptiste (left) & Dr. Philbert Aaron (right)
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