Case details

Hinds and others (Appellants) v Director of Public Prosecutions (Respondent) (Jamaica)

Case ID: JCPC 2019/0028

Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of Jamaica

Case summary

Issue

The appeal focuses on the principle of open justice, to what extent it is applicable in the context of mutual legal assistance requests, and whether the Supreme Court of Jamaica exercised any discretion properly to determine whether the mutual legal assistance proceedings should be conducted in public. Was the Court of Appeal of Jamaica correct to dismiss the Appellants’ appeal of the decision of the Supreme Court of Jamaica that evidence to be taken from the Appellants pursuant to a request for mutual legal assistance by the Netherlands should be given in open court, rather than by a judge in chambers?

Facts

The Appellants were all members of the People’s National Party which formed the Government of Jamaica in October 2006. The Director of Public Prosecutions ("DPP") is the designated Central Authority under the Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters) Act 1995 ("MACMA") in Jamaica.

The National Public Prosecutor’s Office ("NPPO") of the Netherlands is investigating alleged breaches of the Dutch Criminal Code by Trafigura Beheer BV for the potential bribery of public officials of Jamaica. Between December 2007 and May 2009, the NPPO wrote various letters to the DPP, requesting assistance in the form of taking evidence from the Appellants on oath or affirmation.

In the NPPO’s Eighth Supplementary Letter of Request issued on 14 April 2009, the NPPO requested that summonses be issued to the Appellants, pursuant to section 20 of MACMA, to appear before a judge of the Supreme Court or a Resident Magistrate, and to give evidence or produce documents or other articles in connection with the Trafigura investigation.

The resulting section 20 MACMA proceedings started on 14 November 2011. The Appellants raised a preliminary issue of whether the evidence should be taken in chambers or open court. On 15 November 2011, the Supreme Court of Jamaica held that the proper administration of justice demanded a hearing in open court to which members of the public have access, along with the media. The appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal and on 23 June 2017, the Court of Appeal dismissed their appeal. The Appellants now appeal to the JCPC.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Hinds and others

Respondent(s)

Director of Public Prosecutions

Appeal

Justices

Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Kitchin, Lord Hamblen, Lord Stephens, Lady Dorrian

Hearing start date

01 March 2021

Hearing finish date

01 March 2021