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Law Association prepares for election battle: Voting rights query goes before High Court
A High Court judge was yesterday asked to determine if State lawyers were eligible to participate in the upcoming Law Association elections. The statutory interpretation action, which was brought by the association, came exactly one week before the annual election is scheduled to occur.
In the race for the title of president of the association this year is Senior Counsel Israel Khan and incumbent president Dana Seetahal, SC. In the matter which is before Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee in the Port-of-Spain High Court the court is asked to determine whether a legal officer is “entitled to attend and vote at a general meeting of the association or at an elections” according to the Legal Profession Act.
The officer of the Attorney General, which represented the state in all civil proceedings was listed as a party to the matter. A law officer is defined under the act as an attorney-at-law who holds a position in the Judicial or Legal Service or a legal officer employed by the State on contract. Attorneys at the Solicitor’s General office, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Office and at the Chief Parliamentary Counsel are all considered law officers under the act.
According to section 27 of the act, law officers, although possessing practising certificates are exempt from paying the annual subscription of the Law Association and contributions to the Compensation Fund. In their fixed claim form, filed in the High Court registry on March 5, the association is also asking Rajnauth-Lee to decide whether judicial research assistants are considered law officers.
Judicial research assistants are employed by the Judiciary to assist judges in legal research. Honorary Secretary of the Association Donna Prowell-Raphael, in an affidavit filed with the claim said that the issue was raised at a meeting of the Council of the Association. During yesterday’s hearing, Rajnauth-Lee gave attorneys representing the State and the association until Monday and Tuesday next week to file written submissions relating to the claim.
The association is being represented by Alvin Fitzpatrick, SC and Shiv Sharma, while Senior Counsel Russell Martineau is appearing for the State. Justice Rajnauth-Lee is expected to give her ruling in the case before the elections take place next week.
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