Case details

Ramadhar (Appellant) v Ramadhar and others (Respondents) (Trinidad and Tobago)

Case ID: JCPC 2018/0043

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

Case summary

Issue(s)

Did the Court of Appeal err in

  1. upholding the judge’s finding that the appellant’s words were defamatory of the respondents;
  2. failing to consider whether the appellant could avail himself of the defence of justification; and
  3. upholding the judge’s findings that the appellant could not rely on the defences of fair comment, qualified privilege and legitimate reply to attack?
Facts

The People’s Partnership ("PP") was a political coalition which included the Congress of the People ("COP"). The respondents held various positions within the COP and the appellant was the political leader of the COP.

In July 2013, the first and second respondents submitted two motions for discussion before the National Council of the COP. The first of these sought to have the COP withdraw from the coalition government and the second called upon the appellant to account for his stewardship of the party.

On 1 October 2013, a letter purportedly signed by the respondents was sent to an opposition party, alleging that certain candidates of the COP were ineligible to run as COP candidates at the local government elections. On the eve of the elections, a newspaper reported that the opposition party was calling on the Elections and Boundaries Commission to declare invalid the candidacies of three people who were attempting to contest as COP members. At the elections, the opposing party won the majority of the corporations and the PP’s performance was disappointing.

The National Council meeting took place on 10 November 2013. The respondents withdrew their two motions but a motion was called for the immediate suspension of the respondents’ memberships. While the motion was being debated, the letter purportedly signed by the respondents was read out. At the end of the meeting, the National Council held a press conference, during which the appellant made a statement.

On 13 June 2014, the respondents issued a claim for slander and libel against the appellant and four others. In respect of the appellant, the judge rejected defences of qualified privilege and fair comment, finding that his statement went well beyond the boundaries of responsible speech and was a commentary based on facts which were simply not true. The judge also rejected the defence that the appellant’s statement was a legitimate reply to an attack on his leadership and found that it was a collateral and unrelated attack. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appellant’s appeal. The appellant now applies to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Parties

Appellant(s)
  1. Prakash Ramadhar
Respondent(s)
  1. Kishore Ramadhan
  2. Rudolph A. Hanamji
  3. Satu-Ann Ramcharan

Appeal

Justices

Lord Wilson, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lady Arden

Hearing start date

04 Jul 2019

Hearing finish date

04 Jul 2019

Watch hearing
04 Jul 2019 Afternoon session