Last update: 09-Dec-2013 1:43 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Has the Court of Appeal quashed the Integrity Act?
On Monday, the local Court of Appeal ordered that the ruling of retired high court judge Carlton Best on whether TSTT is a public company be set aside.
This week’s judgment determined that TSTT was not subject to the Freedom of Information because, in effect, the Court of Appeal’s judgment in June this year, had established as precedent that TSTT was not a state enterprise.
In this week’s ruling, the Court of Appeal, comprising Gregory Smith, Nolan Bereaux and Peter Jamadar, confirmed the determination in June that TSTT was not a state enterprise by virtue of the fact that the State’s shares in the telecommunications provider have been held by National Enterprises Ltd (NEL) for more than a decade.
The June 27 judgment by the Court of Appeal, which was delivered by Justice of Appeal Smith, argued that if TSTT’s shareholding were subjected to a legal test, it would be determined that NEL, and not the Government, controlled TSTT.
Arguing for the appellants, Avory Sinanan (SC), who took over this case from Anand Ramlogan, this country’s current Attorney General, is reported to have told the court that while the appellants did not agree with Justice Smith’s ruling, they nonetheless could not resist the appeal filed by TSTT.
I have argued previously, in a commentary in this space on July 4 headlined, “Is Appeal Court wrong to redefine state enterprises”, that the Court of Appeal erred in determining that TSTT is not a state enterprise for the purpose of the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA).
It seems clear, therefore, that for the purposes of the law, TSTT is no longer a state enterprise.
Justice of Appeal Smith’s decision means that, for all intent and purposes, TSTT is no longer subject to policy directions from the Minister of Public Utilities, no matter how compelling those might be, if the board determines that said direction is not in the financial interest of the company.
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