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Section 34 today from Privy Council

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Privy Council will this morning deliver its judgment on whether the repeal of the controversial Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act was lawful or not.

The decision of the five judges, who heard arguments in October, last year, will directly impact the fate of over a dozen people and companies accused of fraud arising out of the construction of the Piarco International Airport. 

If successful in their appeal, businessmen Ameer Edoo, Steve Ferguson and insurance company Maritime General will be given a lifeline in their protracted bid to evade going on trial. The trio’s constitutional motions were chosen as test cases that will determine the fate of the other 42 applicants who applied to have their cases struck out.

The controversial clause gave people, whose trials for specific offences had not started after ten years after the crime was allegedly committed, the right to apply to have the case dismissed. Both High Court Judge Mira Dean-Armourer and the Court of Appeal previously rejected the applicant’s claim.

The applicants are claiming that Parliament infringed upon the judicial independence as by repealing the law, it removed the court’s power to determine cases already filed before it.

During the hearings of the appeal at the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court, last October, their attorneys also questioned the role of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, SC, in procuring the repeal by informing Parliament of its effect on the country’s most high-profile fraud prosecutions.

They claimed that Gaspard overstepped his constitutional remit by advocating against the clause after its early proclamation on August 31, 2012.

In response, State attorneys claimed that the repeal was within Parliament’s power as it sought to correct an instance of “oversight” by MPs and Senators in both Houses of Parliament.


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