Judges and magistrates are exempt from filing declarations with the Integrity Commission, in accordance with the Integrity in Public Life Act 2000.
Although Justice Judith Jones made that ruling in 2007, it was only late last month that Attorney General John Jeremie decided to appeal that decision. But his late application did not see the light of day, and yesterday, the Court of Appeal dismissed the application, and even ordered the Attorney General to pay costs to the lawyers representing judges and magistrates. The matter was heard before Chief Justice Ivor Archie, Justice Allan Mendonca and Justice Gregory Smith. Fyard Hosein, SC, appeared for the Attorney General. Russell Martineau, SC, represented the judges and lawyers, while Stanley Marcus, SC, appeared for the Law Reform Commission. In his application to the court, Hosein said Justice Jones gave judgment on October 15, 2007, declaring that judges and magistrates should not declare their assets to the Integrity Commission. No appeal was ever filed by the Integrity Commission. It was only on February 9 this year that Jeremie saw the judgment and decided to appeal.
But it took him more that six weeks to make the application to extend the time, so an appeal could be filed. Appeals from High Court decisions must be filed within 28 days. Martineau, in response, said from the outset that the application should be dismissed. He said judges and magistrates who came to the Bench after Jones' judgment would have expected that this intrusive piece of legislation would not have found its way for them to file for themselves and their spouses. "This is a situation where your right to privacy is in question...Who wants to subject themselves to that?" he asked.
Martineau pointed out that in December 2004, Jeremie told the Parliament that judges and magistrates were exempted from reporting to the Integrity Commission. Another appeal brought by TSTT against the Integrity Commission has been postponed to June 29. In her judgment, Jones said members of State Boards must declare their assets.
Lawyers have asked the Court of Appeal to reverse the Jones' findings over whether or not people who were members of statutory boards, such as the National Insurance Board and the Water and Sewerage Authority, both of which were established not as private companies, but by acts of Parliament, should have to declare their assets.