Last update: 11-Dec-2013 10:36 pm
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Lawyer in Section 34 appeal: DPP’s only choice was to intervene
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was “duty-bound” to intervene and assist in the repeal of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act. So said his attorney, Ian Benjamin, as he presented submissions yesterday in an appeal over the repeal of the legislation, brought by businessmen Steve Ferguson, Ameer Edoo and three insurance companies.
Earlier this week, the group’s attorneys claimed DPP Roger Gaspard unfairly influenced the repeal by contacting Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to suggest it after they had filed their discharge applications in September last year under the controversial legislation. “The complaints made against the DPP cannot and will not avail in the application before you,” Benjamin said. He dismissed the allegations against Gaspard, saying his intervention was permissible under the Constitution.
Benjamin said: “He had a unique perspective and access to a helicopter view of the state of the administration of justice which required him to give such contentious advice as he did here.” He said while the applicants in the appeal were mentioned in Gaspard’s communication with Ramlogan, his client’s concerns were not focused only on their cases but also on correcting general deficiencies he found in the legislation.
From the evidence, he said, it was clear Gaspard was only consulted about the legislation before it was debated in Parliament in late 2011. He said Gaspard was not made aware of Section 34, which was introduced while the bill was being debated in the Senate until after it had been passed by both Houses of Parliament. He said his client was one of several judicial stakeholders who were not consulted before the act was passed and came into effect.
Benjamin said Gaspard attended a meeting of the Judiciary and Justice Sector Committee, in which Chief Justice Ivor Archie raised questions about the ramifications of that portion of the legislation and suggested its proclamation should be postponed. But the objection, he said, was shot down by Justice Minister Herbert Volney who said it was a policy decision by Government. The State’s lead attorney in the appeal, Lord Pannick, QC, also completed his submissions yesterday.
Pannick again called on the court to dismiss the appeal, saying the group had failed to challenge the repeal. He said its contention that it was given a legitimate expectation from the original legislation was a novel one and that in his opinion a piece of legislation was incapable of creating such an expectation. Pannick said the court should not be concerned with Parliament’s considerations for the repeal and could only consider whether the exact words of the repeal act were constitutional or not.
“Parliament has spoken. The court has to determine whether the content of the act withstands constitutional objection and not to assess the quality of Parliament’s performance,” Pannick said. The last hearing of the appeal is scheduled for this morning when the group’s attorneys will respond to the State and DPP’s submissions. Appellate judges Allan Mendonca, Peter Jamadar and Gregory Smith are sitting on the panel.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.