A TAMWORTH law firm is preparing for the case of a lifetime, when it takes Barnaby Joyce’s dual citizen debate to the High Court.
While most of the other politicians embroiled in the controversy surrounding section 44 of the constitution have engaged big city firms, Mr Joyce decided to keep it local, employing Everingham Solomons.
Most solicitors go their whole career without stepping foot in the High Court.
Everingham Solomons director Mark Grady never dreamed he would be in the nation’s highest court arguing over constitutional law.
“Nor did I ever think that Barnaby Joyce would ever become Deputy Prime Minister,” he said, laughing.
“There are very few matters that come up before the High Court in your lifetime, especially in Tamworth.”
The preparation for the High Court hearing, which will take place on October 10 to 12 in Canberra, has been both “very similar and very different” to the firm’s usual cases.
Everingham Solomons associate Clint Coles said Mr Joyce’s argument rested on asking the court to apply a more liberal interpretation of the word citizen.
“The constitution is clear, it says you can’t be an MP if you’re a citizen of a foreign power, and on a purely literal view there is no dispute that Mr Joyce is a citizen of New Zealand,” Mr Coles said.
“We’re asking the court to be more liberal about it.
“Foreign laws determine if you’re a dual citizen. In not every case should we be applying the laws of a foreign country, we have to apply our own interpretation of whether they have acted in a way that makes them seem to be a citizen of a foreign country.
“We admit he might be a dual citizen, but that wasn’t what was intended when the constitution was drafted.”
Mr Grady said the case didn’t have “too many moving parts” and there was no dispute in the facts of the case.
“The legal complexity of it comes into it only because you’re asking the court to set a precedent or take an interpretation of the constitution that hasn’t been done before,” he said.
The government will also make its own submission, independent of Mr Joyce’s.