A weekly digest of legal news under the following headings:-
Before the Courts
Developments in the profession
Law and Society
Beyond our shores
IN A LANDMARK DECISION, the Court of Appeal last week declared that the Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) abused its position of dominance when it acquired the contract for the supply of oil to the Barbados Light & Power, the island’s major source of electricity.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court dismissed the case in which Foote had sued UTECH and its Registrar, Dr Elaine Wallace, for refusing to allow him to register for certain courses.
A High Court judge has ordered that the State pay damages totalling more than $17 million to the estate of slain Negril businessman Frederick ‘Mickey’ Hill. The award was made in the Supreme Court last December after the Attorney General’s Department opted not to contest liability in a wrongful-death suit filed by attorneys for Hill’s widow Brenda and the Administrator General’s Department.
The Supreme Court also made an award of $6 million to a bag juice factory worker who was injured on the job.
Before the Courts
The Caribbean Court of Justice is to travel to Jamaica on March 17 and 18 to hear the application filed by human rights and gay rights advocate, Maurice Tomlinson, against the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Belize. The hearing is to be heard via video link at the Supreme Court in downtown, Kingston.
In related Original Jurisdiction matters, the Jamaica Gleaner reported that Dominica wants to settle Tommy Lee deportaiton case.
President of the Court of Appeal Justice Seymour Panton yesterday complained about the shortage of judges when he had to put aside other cases to expedite an appeal in connection with two Senate seats. March 16 and 17 have been set aside for the hearing of the appeal filed by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness against a Constitutional Court ruling last month.
The Court of Appeal is this morning expected to hear arguments by a lobby group seeking permission to take its case against the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to the Privy Council.
The hearing of the claim filed by the Clerk of the Houses of Parliament in the Supreme Court was adjourned on Tuesday afternoon to await word from the Appeal Court, in a related matter. The Appeal Court is to decide whether it will have a speedy hearing of the appeal filed by Opposition leader, Andrew Holness in the Senate seat issue. The Appeal Court will give its decision on Wednesday.
Prominent Jamaican attorneys charged for fraud
Miguel Lorne and Harold Brady were both charged for fraud within the last week for their involvement in land transactions in their capacity as Attorneys-at-Law. Both attorneys were charged and have their respective explanations for what happened – here is Lorne’s and here is Brady’s and was granted bail in the sum of $3 million.
Attorney-at-law Michael Lorne says he will not allow the fraud charges against him to slow down his pursuit of justice for Mario Deane. He says he will be taking the case to an international court.
The application filed by Rural Transit Company Limited, which is being represented by attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman, is seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the move. The company is contending that the decision of the JUTC to designate a section of the highway for its exclusive use is a breach of the constitutional rights of public passenger operators.
THE Supreme Court will in two weeks hear the application for an injunction to bar the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) from using a petition to have the boundaries of the municipality of Portmore expanded.
A COMMITTEE has been formed to examine whether marijuana should be legalised in the region. This was disclosed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he addressed the media, as the 26th Inter-Sessional Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), came to a close last Friday at the Meliá Beach Resort in Nassau.
During the debate on the Immigration(Amendment) Bill 2014, in the Barbados Senate, Senator Darcy Boyce announced that statistics do not support the allegation that Barbados is discriminating against CARICOM nationals seeking entry into the country.
The National Assembly has approved legislation formally abolishing the death penalty in the Dutch-speaking CARICOM country. But the legislators raised the highest prison term limits from 30 to 50 years in what is seen as a compromise to amending the Criminal code.
Law and Society
Dominica Friday became the fourth Caribbean Community (Caricom) country to replace the London-based Privy Council as their final court of appeal, replacing it with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The full recording of the ceremony can be viewed here.
Attorney General Levi Peter, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, said that the CCJ, which was established by regional governments in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the Caribbean’s final court, will allow for more people to have access to its rulings.
The Honourable Sir Manuel Sosa, President of the Court of Appeal of Belize and former Chief Justice of Belize, visited Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago 23-26 February 2015, as a guest of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
As a highlight of the visit, with the assistance of the Faculty of Law of the University of the West Indies St Augustine Campus, Sir Manuel Sosa made a presentation to law students on the topic: On Board with the CCJ: An Overview of the Belizean Experience thus far.
In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a school teacher was arrested and charged with making obscene publications which stemmed from posts she allegedly made on Facebook. These alleged posts criticized the Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonzalez and the Government.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has announced her intention to employ a little-used mechanism in the Commonwealth parliamentary system to mount an attack on Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
Google has provided requested information to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service in relation to emails surrounding the “email gate” controversy which allegedly pointed to serious criminal offences by senior government officials.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Keith Rowley announced that he has hired Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj to defend him against the impending lawsuit to be brought by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in the matter.
The Legal Aid Council says the police are still engaging in what it calls the wide-spread practice of detaining citizens without advising them of their right to legal representation. Under the Constitution, persons must be advised of this right before facing any questions by members of the security forces.
JCA president Wilford ‘Billy’ Heaven, armed with legal advice, told those at the meeting that the vote to overturn was in breach of the rules governing the running of the association.
He said the resolution to overturn went in nine days late, which according to the guidelines of the constitution, meant it being tabled at that AGM was inadmissible unless 100 per cent of eligible members were in favour of such.
Speaking during the University of the West Indies Homecoming recently, Robinson, who described the transatlantic slave trade as the “greatest atrocity and example of people’s inhumanity to another people in the history of humankind”, gave examples where other countries have compensated other wronged groups in the past. While stressing that he argued that it is time for reparation for slavery.
During the meetings of the United Nations Rights Council, the Assistant secretary General for human rights in his arguments against the death penalty urged the need for a unified approach to the global abolition of an inhuman and outdated punishment.
The political sphere is but one context in which pre-signed undated letters of resignation are used. Prospective employees of corporate entities might be, and sometimes are, asked to sign similar letters at the beginning or during the course of their employment. In the ordinary course of things, such a practice would not rise to the level of a constitutional claim, given the usually private commercial nature. So what exactly is the legal effect of such letters when procured in the normal setting of an employer-employee relationship?
Part of the reason for the relatively low rate of compliance, we believe, is the absence of aggressive enforcement, and a sense in the society that bikes are not really motor vehicles. The absence of sustained campaigns for the use of helmets, and formal reported studies on the efficacy of safety helmets in motorcycle crashes, contribute, too, to their underuse. We suspect, too, that motorcycle crashes and injuries, when there are no deaths, are severely under-reported in Jamaica.
Others have called for the laws to be strengthened.
In your editorial headlined ‘Putting an end to farm pillage’, in last Saturday’s paper, you recommended harsh punishment for those thieves who are caught.
However, punishment can only be imposed on those thieves who are not only caught, but prosecuted and convicted.
Beyond Our Shores
A three judge panel of the Court of Appeals in Utah, USA, held that a wife could sue herself by bringing a claim in her capacities as heir to and personal representative of her deceased husband’s estate who died in a motor vehicle accident in which she was the driver and he was the passenger in the motor vehicle they were in.