A weekly digest of legal news under the following headings:-
Before the Courts
Developments in the profession
Law and Society
Beyond our shores
The Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis has been thrown into political turmoil following a British judicial decision to strike down new electoral regulations a few days before the state’s general election.
Five British justices sitting on the judicial committee of the privy council in London on Thursday overturned the introduction of fresh constituency boundaries ahead of the poll, which happens on Monday. The elections will now be held using the old electoral boundaries.
A video of the Privy Council handing down its decision can be viewed here.
Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas strongly disagreed with the ruling suggesting that the Privy Council was too far away to understand the bigger picture in Basseterre.
Belize’s Supreme Court has dismissed an application by the Belize Bank which is seeking to enforce an award against the government that was granted by the London Court of International Arbitration.
In Trinidad and Tobago, ten accused men who were convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Thackoor Boodram filed a petition against President Anthony Carmona requesting him to exercise his powers under Section 64 of the Supreme Court Judicature Act. His inaction to determine their petition, according to a letter to the President through the lawyer of two of the convicted men, would amount to a breach of their fundamental right to due process.
Before the Courts
A Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies cricketer is being sued by a woman with whom he had a one-time love affair after he electronically disseminated intimate photographs of her to several of his colleagues…. Legal sources said it is believed this is the first time such a lawsuit is to be determined by the local courts and that its outcome will set a new legal precedent when it comes to the dissemination of private information, including photographs and video recordings of individuals without their permission
THE Senate yesterday decided to refer the issues arising from the Constitutional Court’s decision on the re-seating of Opposition senators Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton to the Supreme Court for determination.
Yesterday, both Williams and Tufton returned to take their seats on the Opposition benches, while senators Ruel Reid and Nigel Clarke who had replaced them in controversial resignations of November 2013, did not attend the sitting.
The refrence is being made despite the advice of the Attorney-General that Williams and Tufton should be allowed to take their seats. A retired Court of Appeal judge does not believe it is necessary to go to the Supreme Court. Others disagree with the role played by the Attorney General in giving this advice.
THE Supreme Court will on Monday, February 16 conduct judicial review into the decision by the Public Service Commission to place Faith Webster of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs on interdiction.
The Nigerian man at the centre of an Ebola scare at the Mandeville Regional Hospital has filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court against the Jamaican government and the Southern Regional Health Authority.
Lecturer, Dr Bob Banjo is seeking damages for false imprisonment, defamation, unlawful disclosure of patient information and breaches of his constitutional right to privacy.
A St James man is the first Jamaican facing extradition to stand trial in the United States for lottery scamming activities.
28 year old Damion Bryan Barrett was arrested Thursday afternoon on an extradition warrant by the Fugitive Apprehension Team, FAT.
The absence of one of the attorneys representing the three police officers who are facing multiple charges arising from last August’s beating death of Mario Deane, forced the matter to be deferred from yesterday’s scheduled sitting until February 26.
The United States has stated that it is fine with Jamaica’s attempt to decriminalize marijuana for specific purposes once the country respects its international obligations. It further expressed that it is not interested in influencing decision making processes in Jamaica.
Developments in the profession
Nineteen volumes of the Caribbean Law Review (CLR), over 41 000 regional judgements, 10 000 pages of the Laws of Barbados and updating the indexes to the laws from most CARICOM countries, form the plethora of information for digitisation and placement in online, searchable databases over the course of this year and into 2016.
The Legal Aid Council stated that a long awaited increase in fees for lawyers who volunteer their services could take place this calendar year.
Law and Society
Citizens’ Action for Principles and Integrity (CAPI) says that the recent ruling by the Constitutional Court in the case of Williams vs Holness regarding the forced resignation from the Senate reinforces the urgent need for radical Constitutional reform in the operations of governance and Parliament.
By simply logging on to the Internet and typing your name into a search engine, you may be surprised to find that your personal and business information, including name, address and debts, is there for everyone to see.
Well, that is, if you are on the National Security Interests in Personal Property Registry for Jamaica’s website, which was created following the passage of the Security Interests in Personal Property (SIPP) Act last year.
The registry was subsequently shutdown but only temporarily.
Jamaican Attorney at Law Bert Samuels agreed with the pressure the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is putting Jamaica under to pass laws to abolish corporal punishment
When this legislation is passed it will impact, in a positive way, on the community level, the increasing capacity of individuals to give them a wider range of access to justice services by being able to refer or divert certain cases to the restorative justice centre in their community as opposed to having their issues dealt with through the traditional justice system.
The Ministry of Justice has indicated that anecdotal evidence suggests more Jamaicans are moving towards restorative justice in cases where they have been wronged.
In Barbados Magistrate Douglas Frederick declared his frustration over several decisions by the High Court to grant accused persons bail when they have been refused bail for sound reasons at the Magistrates’ Court, only to have the same accused persons come before the Magistrate’s Court again having committed new offences. He stated that the High Court appears to be undermining the decisions of the Magistrates’ court.
Arlene Harrison Henry, who was appointed recently as Jamaica’s first female public defender, has indicated that her mission is to defend the rights of all citizens, especially the vulnerable groups in society.
New regulations were tabled in Parliament last Tuesday, February 3, to amend fees and shareholding requirements for cooperatives governed under Industrial and Provident Societies Act (IPSA).
The Barbados Bar Association is seeking to play its part as they acknowledge the issue of domestic violence on the island.
Attorney at Law Linton Gordon is rejecting a suggestion by police officers in St Ann who are calling for sanctions to be imposed against Senior Resident Magistrate Andrea Thomas for ordering the detention of a woman corporal who had been placed in a holding area with three male prisoners. He suggested that the woman corporal should sue the police officer or officers who placed her in lock up with the male prisoners.
Sir Dennis said since July, 2012, consistent with its vision to provide the Caribbean Community with a judiciary which is “accessible, fair, efficient and innovative” the Court has been adopting measures in keeping with the spirit of promoting access to justice.
He said currently, there are four different publications from a hearing; namely: a reasoned judgment, a judgment summary, a media release and a popular press summary for the CCJ Corner project.
According to Gordon Robinson, It’s the Leader of the Opposition ALONE entrusted with this solemn obligation to the Jamaican people. He/she MUST ensure we’re protected against governments who may wish to make irrational changes to the Constitution because of ideology or even theology. Others have disagreed with aspects of Robinson’s argument, including Dr Lloyd Barnett on the issue of the application of the Interpretation Act.
But others think independent senators are in fact needed.
The CCJ Debate in Jamaica
Old arguments that the time for the CCJ has to come. One of the latest arguments is that the CCJ would be swapping foreign for foreign. At a forum at the Faculty of Law (UWI, Mona) Dr Leighton Jackson rejected arguments in favour of the CCJ while at the same forum former prime minister Edward Seaga repeated his arguments for a referendum on the issue.
The author briefly looks at the role technology has and can play in the legal profession.
Beyond Our Shores
The Canadian Supreme Court struck down sections of the country’s Proceeds of Crime(Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act which it said violated attorney – client privilege. This ends a 15 year battle between Canada’s lawyers and the federal government over an attorney’s right to protect their relationship with their clients and recognized for the first time constitutional protection of lawyers against influences that undermine their relationship with clients.
The United States regulatory agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sued the Cayman Islands-based Caledonian Bank and four other companies, claiming that they took more than US $75 million from unregistered sales of “virtually worthless” penny stocks.
In a surprising decision by the United States Supreme Court, a former Nationwide employee was held to have not been discriminated against on the basis of her sex by the company when it allegedly forced her to resign after she requested a private room to use her breast pump as she was breastfeeding at the time. The company’s alleged refusal of this request was because she had not filled out the necessary documentation to use the company’s lactation room.