Case details

Sahatoo (Appellant) v The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago (Respondent) (Trinidad and Tobago)

Case ID: JCPC 2017/0086

Jurisdiction: The Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Case summary

Issue(s)

Whether the Appellant had been subjected to unequal treatment by a public authority contrary to section 4(d) of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, in particular whether there were sufficiently material differences between him and other officers.

Facts

In 1985, the Appellant ("Mr Sahatoo") applied for the post of Road Officer I in the Public Service of Trinidad and Tobago. Having sat the requisite examination in 1985 and attended an interview for the post in June 1986, Mr Sahatoo was informed that he had been placed on the "Order of Merit" list of approved candidates for employment. He was then contacted by the Service Commissions Department on multiple occasions in relation to his continued interest in the post and temporary appointments.

In 1993, he entered the Public Service as a temporary Road Officer I. In 1995, he was appointed on a permanent basis, with effect from 9 August 1993. In or around November 1998, he was appointed as Road Officer II on a temporary basis. He was appointed to act in the same role on a temporary basis on various dates in the period 2001 to 2004. He was appointed to the substantive post as of 26 June 2004.

In 2008, he issued proceedings alleging an infringement of his right under section 4(d) of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago to equality of treatment from any public authority in the exercise of any functions. He essentially alleged that ten officers had bypassed him for promotion as Road Officer I (and, thus, subsequent promotions) even though they were placed lower than him on the Order of Merit list.

Dean-Armorer J dismissed his claim on 16 December 2011 on the basis that the ten officers were not appropriate comparators. This was because they had been acting in temporary appointments when they were appointed in priority to him. The Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal on 15 October 2015, holding that there were sufficiently material differences between him and the other officers. Leave to appeal to the JCPC was granted conditionally on 23 November 2015 and made final on 18 April 2016.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Samoorath Samaroo

Respondent(s)

Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago

Appeal

Justices

Lord Kerr, Lord Hodge, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Kitchin

Hearing start date

26 Mar 2019

Hearing finish date

26 Mar 2019