Law in the news (March 16-22, 2015)

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

Before the courts

CCJ Reserves Judgement In Maurice Tomlinson Immigration Case

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has reserved judgement in the application filed by human rights and gay rights advocate, Maurice Tomlinson, who is challenging the immigration laws of Trinidad and Tobago and Belize.

Over the course of the two day trial, the CCJ heard evidence from immigration officials in both Trinidad and Tobago and Belize that their practice is not to deny CARICOM nationals entry into their respective countries. A brief overview of the legal arguments can be found here.

 The case has attracted international attention having been reported in Business Standard, The Independent, The Costa Rica Star, and ABC News.


Case Involving Four Guyanese To Go Before The CCJ

Four Guyanese nationals who were appealing their 2009 conviction in the Court of Appeal have been told to take their case to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The four were found guilty of possession, importation and trafficking of 91.3 kilogrammes of cannabis and 119.4 kilogrammes of cocaine back in 2005.

Holness begins appeal against Constitutional Court ruling

Holness’s lead attorney, Ransford Braham, QC, asked a panel of three justices in the Court of Appeal — President Seymour Panton, Mahaved Dukharan and Patrick Brooks — that the ruling should be dismissed as Williams used the wrong procedure to mount his case in the Constitutional Court to challenge his dismissal from the Senate.

The judgment is to be handed down on Wednesday.

Supreme Court to Decide Next Week on Portmore Boundary Injunction

In Jamaica, the Supreme Court is expected to decide next week Tuesday on declarations being sought on the legality of boundary changes in the Portmore Municipality. The court is also set to decide on an injunction which is being sought to bar the Electoral Commission of Jamaica from collecting signatures to correct boundary issues in the municipality.

Debated Bills

NIA calls for passage of Bill on political party funding, campaign financing

In Jamaica, Executive Director of National Integrity Action (NIA), Professor Trevor Munroe, says passage of the Campaign NIA logoFinance Reform Bill that will enhance transparency of, and regulate, political party funding and campaign financing, remains an urgent need for Jamaica and a major area of advocacy for the organisation. To this end, he repeated NIA’s call for expeditious tabling and passage of the Bill in parliament.

LIME Ja boss pushes for legislation to protect telecoms industry

Garfield Sinclair, managing director of full-service telecommunications provider LIME, says that the frequency of copper cable theft continues to stifle its expansion efforts, even with the recent acquisition of Columbus Communications (Flow) and Dekal Wireless to broaden its reach.

Jamaica to lead reform of international laws on marijuana

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton announced that Jamaica intends to lead a charge in the United Nations seeking to effect changes to the international treaties which concern marijuana in light of scientific studies that have proven its therapeutic benefits and medicinal value.

Amnesty Int’l wants clarification on migration reforms in Bahamas

The international human rights group, Amnesty International, says it is seeking information from the Bahamas Government regarding its migration reform policy. Amnesty says it is seeking the information amid allegations that the “reforms” might be “leading to human rights violations and enhancing discrimination in the country”.

Hylton To Push For Inclusion Of Services In CBI During Obama Visit

Minister of Industry Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton is committing to raise the issue of trade in services under the Caribbean Basin Initiative – an expansion that regional businesses have been pressing – during next month’s official visit by US President Barack Obama.
The Caribbean ‘Soca’ Initiative

 Law and Society

 Armour beats Jairam in T&T Law Association election

SENIOR Counsel Reginald Armour was elected yesterday evening as the new president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago, replacing Seenath Jairam SC.

Littering laws just need to be enforced

Barbados’ littering laws need not be revamped, they simply need to be enforced. So stated Minister of Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, as he spoke with the media recently, regarding a number of environmental issues.

Human rights allegations against Bahamas denounced as ‘false, baseless and malicious’

A sitting of the IACHR

A sitting of the IACHR

Denouncing allegations made against The Bahamas by the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) as ”false, baseless and malicious,” Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez told members of the Infer-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Friday that The Bahamas has a history of respecting human rights that “predates our independence.”

US Say Courts Crippling Ja Narcotics Fight

THE United States (US) STATE Department has warned that Jamaica’s overburdened justice system is crippling the country’s efforts to fight corruption, international drug trafficking, and violent criminal gangs.

CARICOM restates support for Guyana in border dispute with Venezuela

The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has come out in full support of Guyana after Venezuela declared that the “Arbitral award of 1899, which definitively settled the boundary between the two countries, is null and void”.

Call for CCJ type funding for OECS Supreme Court

Former Government Minister, Dwyer Astaphan made the call for a Caribbean Court of Justice(CCJ) type funding mechanism to be put in place for the OECS Supreme Court so that a system can exist without any semblance or perception of interference. He suggested that this is currently not the case.


Victim Blaming in Carnal Abuse Cases in Jamaica

As one of the parishes with the highest rate of sexual abuse of children in Jamaica, some residents of St. Thomas are shifting the blame from the perpetrators of these attacks to the parents and even the child victims. Assistant Superintendent of the Yallahs police also asserted that many community members were not even aware that having sex with a person under sixteen, sexual grooming or touching or possession of child pornography were criminal offences.


UN urges Jamaica to take zero tolerance stance in dealing with paedophiles

The United Nations in Jamaica made this plea while addressing the alarming issue of sexual abuse of children, in particular adolescent girls in the country, citing statistics that underscore the horrific scale of the problem.

My Lawyer, my accuser

Former CEO of the Medical Associates Hospital, Simone Khouri and her husband filed a complaint with the General Legal Council(GLC) against their former attorney at law and chairman of the hospital, Conrad George, claiming that he breached attorney client privilege and acted with a conflict of interest when, he along with the hospital’s board, ousted them from their positions.

Man charged in Multi million dollar seizure of fake shoes

In Jamaica, a Chinese businessman was charged with breaches of the Trademark Copyright Act in connection with the seizure of JM $50 million worth of fake name brand name footwear which included brands such as Puma, Vans and Adidas.

He is expected in the Half way Tree Magistrate’s Court on Friday, March 27, 2015.


The Curious Case Of Ganja, Police Powers And Human Rights

Although not yet in effect, the reform of the law is significant as young men with small amounts of marijuana are no longer to be arrested and carted off to prison. Instead, they are to be ticketed for the offence, which now carries a fine of $500. More importantly, the amendments ought to safeguard the lives of young Jamaican males who should never have to suffer the brutal and unfortunate fate of Mario Deane and Oshane Dothlyn, who died tragically while in police custody after being arrested for having marijuana in their possession.

Reform may break back of Petty Civil Court

The PCC is a court created by statute where litigants who have a civil claim (i.e. someone seeking compensation for a wrong done to him) can invoke the court to grant him relief. It is meant to be an informal court where the judge can assist litigants to overcome the technicalities of the law and where the heads of households can represent any member of their household.

By virtue of the low financial threshold, it is clear that it was meant to deal with disputes which arose in the ordinary course of business and which ought to be resolved with the minimum of legalese as possible. Unfortunately, in my view, it has become contaminated by too much procedure which militates against summary resolution of disputes as the original intention appears to be.

Privy Council Or Caribbean Court Of Justice: Which Should Be St. Kitts & Nevis’ Final Appellate Court?

The recent decision of the Privy Council granting an interim injunction, which forced the 2015 general election in St. Kitts and Nevis to be held on the existing old constituency boundaries, has been touted by some persons as a reason for not acceding to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice (“CCJ”) at this time.  As welcome and positive as that Privy Council decision is, it provides no such reason.  Indeed, that decision ought to be regarded as supporting the argument in favour of moving to embrace the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction without further delay.

Pros and Cons of working as a Contract Attorney

This opinion by Le Trinh, discusses 8 pros and cons of specialising as a contract attorney.

Complaining about your job online could land you in jail

In looking at the case of an American who ended up in prison in the United Arab Emirates for complaining about his job on social media, this article discusses the need to be wary of online conduct in relation to laws when in foreign jurisdictions and not to assume such laws of their home country are applicable to their actions online.

Beyond Our Shores

UN declares ICC should prosecute ISIS for Iraq genocide, war crimes

The United Nations announced that it believed Islamic State forces may have committed genocide in its attempt to wipe out the Yazidi minority in Iraq in addition to other war crimes against civilians. As such it urged the UN Security Council to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court(ICC) to prosecute the perpetrators within the insurgent group.


Three UK judges removed and a fourth resigns for viewing pornography at work

Three judges have been removed and a fourth has resigned following an investigation into an allegation that they viewed pornographic material on office computers. The naming of all four is an unexpected blow to the reputation of the judiciary, as well as a humiliating public rebuke to the individual ex-judges.

Marvin Gaye’s family files ‘Blurred Lines’ injunction

The late singer’s children filed an injunction seeking to prevent the copying, distribution and performance of the widely successful song and further sought to amend the verdict which ordered Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke to pay $7.4 million(US) in damages, to include rapper T.I who also performed the song with Williams and Thicke.

The family is also asking the judge to correct the jury’s verdict to add several record labels to the lost of infringers.

France likely to pass bill banning super skinny models

France, one of the fashion capitals of the world is looking to back a Billwhich would ban excessively thin fashion models as well as possibly fining model agencies that hires them.

Social lawmaker Oliver Veran also wants to add language to an upcoming health bill to make it illegal to employ models deemed to have an eating disorder. This measure highlights a similar position taken in countries like Israel and Spain.

Priest who ran meth ring, to ask for leniency

In Connecticut, USA, a Roman Catholic priest who authorities say dealt methamphetamine and bought a sex shop possibly intending to launder his drug money is asking a federal judge for leniency when he is sentenced next week.

Norfolk Island set to lose Independence

A remote Pacific island whose residents are descendants of the swashbuckling British sailors and Tahitian women immortalised in the Mutiny on the Bounty movies is set to lose its right to self-rule.

US Bar Exam, the Standard to Become a Lawyer, Comes Under Fire

For decades, law school graduates have endured a stressful rite of passage, spending the first 10 weeks after classes end taking cram courses in the arcane details of the law before sitting down for the grueling, days-long bar exam. Those who do not pass cannot practice law, at least in nearly all the states and the District of Columbia that consider the exam the professional standard.


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