Law in the News (February 23 – March 1)

A weekly digest of legal news under the following headings:-

Decided Cases

Before the Courts

Debated Legislation/Bills

Developments in the profession

Law and Society


Beyond our shores

Decided Cases

Pan Trinbago loses appeal

AN appeal filed by Pan Trinbago challenging the decision of a High Court judge in 2013, in favour of two steelband members who were seeking positions on the committee of the governing body for pan and steelband music, was for the most part dismissed by a three-judge Appeal Court panel at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain on Monday.

The only ground of appeal allowed by Justices Peter Jamadar, Mark Mohammed and Nolan Bureaux was that on the issue of the appropriateness of the orders for costs.

Supreme Court turns down injunction by Portmore councillors

The Supreme Court in Jamaica turned down an application which sought an injunction to bar the Electoral Commission of Jamaica from continuing to collect signatures to correct boundary issues in the Portmore Municipality. portmore_logo


Before the Courts

Sitting of the Jamaican Senate

Sitting of the Jamaican Senate

Clarification sought on status of Tufton and Williams as senators

An application was filed in the Supreme Court Monday afternoon, seeking clarification on the status of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) members Arthur Williams and Dr Christopher Tufton The application sought to find out if Dr Tufton and Williams are still senators and questioned the status of Dr Nigel Clarke and Ruel Reid, who were nominated in their stead when both were dismissed by JLP Leader Andrew Holness in 2013. The matter is expected to be considered this week. One attorney has asked that the court move quickly in addressing this issue.

Holness to appeal Constitutional Court ruling

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness has filed an appeal against the Constitutional Court ruling that his appointment of two senators in the resignation letter affair was null and void. The JLP has justified this move arguing there are issues to be addressed in the interest of the proper functioning of the constitution. Holness insists the appeal is not an act of belligerence.

JPS Appeals OUR decision on refunding customers

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has announced that it will be appealing the directive from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to repay funds collected from customers in 2013 and paid over to Petrojam for fuel used to generate electricity.

Jamaican woman sues Bahamian government officials

A Jamaican woman on Friday filed a civil suit in the Bahamas Supreme Court, against senior government officials. The woman, who claimed that she was raped by a Bahamian immigration officer, is seeking damages for battery, assault, false imprisonment and the breach of her constitutional rights.

Powell, Simpson management to sue supplement company

US media reports are that the management agency for Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson is to sue supplement company Epiphany D1 for more than US$8 million following the athletes failed drugs tests.

The two sprinters tested positive for oxilofrine at their June 2013 national championships and were provisionally suspended for 18 months by the Jamaica Anti-doping Commission (JADCO). However, the ban was later reduced to six months following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) last year.

Debated Bills/legislation


Jamaica’s House of Representatives passes ganja bills

The much anticipated amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act was passed in the House of Representatives. The debate on the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, often referred to as the ganja law, was piloted in the House, by Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting.

Bunting later warned that the passage of the Bill does not mean a free for all and that the implementation of these laws would take time as regulations will have to be developed and the Cannabis Licensing Authority established. Some disagree with the law, arguing that it was not properly thought through.

The move has been commended by the St Lucia Cannabis Movement. In the USA more areas are taking steps to legalise marijuana. They include Washington DC

New Law To Allow Government To Sell Delinquent Taxpayers’ Property

It will soon take just a few years of delinquency in the payment of property taxes to cause landowners to lose their property if legislation tabled in Parliament yesterday is approved.

Trinidad adoption law and same-sex and disabled issues

Persons who are disabled, gay and who choose to have a child though surrogacy should be included in the laws with respect to adoption. These were the views expressed by Independent and Opposition senators at the Senate sitting yesterday as they debated The Adoption of Children (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

No plans to reintroduce property tax

The Government has no plans to introduce or reintroduce any system for the collection of Land and Building taxes or any form of property tax during this current parliamentary term, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Tuesday.

Legislation for immigration policy tabled in parliament

In Bahamas, the Immigration(Amendment) Bill 2015 was tabled earlier this week, which seeks to regularize the government’s new immigration policy and establish a legal framework for the Carmichael Road Detention Centre. This comes on the heels of government expression of disappointment in the recommendations made by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights which deemed the detention and treatment of immigrants in the country as serious and urgent situation.

A sitting of the IACHR

A sitting of the IACHR


Law and Society

Mediation programme aims to reduce backlogs in CARICOM courts

The Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) project is implementing its activities for increasing the use of mediation to assist courts in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries with reducing their case backlogs.

CARICOM secretariat

Promising prospects for CARICOM customs harmonization process

Given the level of cooperation demonstrated, it is anticipated that consensus and sign-off on the harmonised customs bill in its entirety will be secured exactly one month from now, by the close of the Trinidad and Tobago meeting. The move toward customs harmonisation represents a critical stride in fulfilling the mandate of regional economic integration (Art 95, Treaty of Chaguaramas).

T&T steps up lobby for Arms Trade Treaty secretariat

Trinidad and Tobago stepped up its lobbying efforts to become the secretariat of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), staging a two-day conference that is discussing the financial rules and other measures.

Amnesty Highlights Five Areas Jamaica Needs To Improve

 International human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has pointed to five areas it says Jamaica needs to improve in its 2014/2015 report on the country. It lists issues relating to the police and security forces, justice, gender-based violence, children’s rights and gays and lesbians.

Jamaica’s Public Defender Braces For Case Load Double

The Office of the Public Defender is bracing for the number of complaints from citizens to be doubled in 2015. The office had received 448 cases from January 1, 2014 to December 12, 2014, which was an increase of 136 over the previous year.”It is projected that a minimum of 1,000 complaints will be received in 2015,” a notation in the 2015/2016 Estimates of Expenditure reads.

Attorney takes aim at DPP

In Jamaica, in reacting to calls by the DPP for legislation to allow the Crown the right to challenge the outcome of cases, prominent attorney at law Bert Samuels referred to persons who would wish to lobby for such legislation as “poor losers”.

Lawyer gets nine month suspension

The General Legal Council suspended an attorney at law for 9 months for breaching the Legal Profession Act for failing to file accountant’s reports from 2002 – 2005.

Cornwall Bar Association takes judge to task

The Cornwall Bar Association CBA) is objecting to remarks made by a Supreme Court judge to jurors after they returned a not-guilty verdict this month in a bigamy case in the Westmoreland Circuit Court.

In a statement, the CBA stated that Justice Martin Gayle’s comments had called into disrepute the very jury system on which our criminal court system is based. The CBA made a special plea for jurors to be treated with respect.

Let UWI Pay

One of the nation’s leading gender activists is calling for females who believe their safety is not sufficient priority by the administrators of the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) to take legal action against that institution.


Cayman Islands Attorney General comes under fire again

Attorney at law in the Cayman Islands, Peter Polack expressed grave concern over poor record keeping of legal authorities and what he deems as a refusal by the Attorney General to release information, leading among other things, to inefficiencies in the legal department.


What you’ll never learn at law school

By the time I graduated from the law faculty and entered the Norman Manley Law School, it had been confirmed to me, beyond doubt, that very little of what I’d been taught would prove helpful in my future practice. There were exceptions. For example, I sat at the feet of the brilliant Professor Telford Georges and learned about administrative law and the law of human rights. These proved to be the two most relevant academic courses I ever experienced and so, naturally, they were the chosen options of very few students.

NSIPP Registry and the issues of privacy

All that the NSIPP Registry has done is to make this information more easily accessible to all. This ease of access was a deliberate aim of the secured transaction regime, as it is intended to make it easier for persons to extend credit to others. So what is our concern?

The Searchable NSIPP registry – The Way Forward

The current brouhaha concerning the NSIPP Registry demonstrates that even as our lawmakers attempt to meet ambitious deadlines in the legislative timetable, often in order to, commendably, comply with their commitments to international lenders, proper account must be taken of the concerns of stakeholders and the public at large, preferably before a particular piece of legislation is brought into effect.

Ancient Dental Act needs new teeth

But while dentistry here and worldwide now has new technologies, new practising standards, and new ethical codes of conduct, the profession in Jamaica is still governed by the Dental Act of 1972 – a 43-year-old document with just one revision made very early in the new millennium. That was an update to introduce the practising certificate to the registration process for dentists and auxiliaries.

Legal Loop: Lawyers, social media evidence and discovery obligations

This article looks at the emerging importance of social media evidence and discovery obligations in the United States.


Beyond our shores

 US Supreme COurt

US Supreme Court divided over right to appeal visa denial

The US Supreme Court appeared divided Monday over whether American citizens can appeal the Government’s decision to deny their spouse a visa, after a California woman’s Afghan husband was barred from entering the country.

Fisherman Is Off The Hook In Grouper-Tossing Case

A Florida fisherman convicted of tossing undersize grouper off his boat is off the hook after a divided Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that he should not have been ensnared by a law targeting accounting fraud.

No Federal charges in Trayvon Martin case

A Florida man who was acquitted of murder in the racially charged shooting death of an unarmed black teenager will not face federal hate crime charges, US justice officials said Tuesday.

Damages awarded in terror case against Palestinian groups

The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization were found liable for their role in knowingly supporting six terrorist attacks in Israel between 2002 – 2004 where Americans were killed and injured. This decision is significant as it has been historically difficult not only for victims of international terrorism to bring their civil cases to trial but to also recover damages.


Case Against Argentine President, Brought by Prosecutor Who Died, Is Dismissed

An Argentine judge on Thursday dismissed criminal allegations against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner that had been brought by a prosecutor who had accused her of conspiring to shield Iranian officials from responsibility for the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center here in 1994.

South Korea decriminalizes adultery

South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a controversial adultery law which for more than 60 years had criminalised extra-marital sex and jailed violators for up to two years. The nine-member bench ruled by seven to two that the 1953 statute aimed at protecting traditional family values was unconstitutional.

Nepalese colonel faces torture trial in UK

A Nepalese army officer has gone on trial at the Old Bailey accused of torturing two alleged Maoist rebels in his homeland 10 years ago.

The prosecution of Lieutenant Colonel Kumar Lama, 47, was brought before a London court because of the UK’s obligations under the UN convention against torture to bring suspects to justice wherever they are detained. Torture, like war crimes, is subject to universal jurisdiction, allowing those who allegedly committed crimes abroad to be tried in Britain.

UK Approves three person babies

The UK has now become the first country to approve laws to allow the creation of babies from three people. The modified version of IVF has passed its final legislative obstacle after being approved by the House of Lords.


Oscar Pistorius case: Judge’s appeal ruling challenged

Lawyers for Oscar Pistorius launched a bid to prevent prosecutors from appealing against his acquittal on murder charges. The prosecution argued that the judge had misinterpreted the law as it relates to murder.

Blurred Lines Case

Last Tuesday, court proceedings began in the United States, Los Angeles to determine whether “Blurred Lines” one of the biggest songs of the century by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I, was improperly derived from Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up” so as to amount to copyright infringement. Here are seven things to know about the trial.


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