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Case details

Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago (Respondent) v Akili Charles (Appellant) (Trinidad and Tobago)

Case ID: JCPC 2022/0017

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

Case summary

Issue

(1)Was the Court of Appeal wrong to overturn the High Court Judge’s decision on the basis that the case against the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (“JLSC”) had not been articulated in the appellant’s pleadings and evidence?
(2) Was the Court of Appeal wrong to find that there was no breach of the appellant’s constitutional right to the protection of the law?

Facts

The appellant was charged with murder on 5 December 2010. The matter proceeded to an advanced pre–trial stage before the Chief Magistrate until, on 12 April 2017, the Chief Magistrate was made a High Court Judge. On 1 June 2017, the Acting Chief Magistrate ruled that all part–heard matters would have to be tried afresh. This meant that the appellant’s preliminary inquiry, which had nearly been completed, had to start all over again. The appellant could not afford to pay legal fees a second time. On 7 March 2019, he therefore filed a claim for constitutional relief. In effect, he sought compensation to cover the cost of having to pay for legal representation twice.
The High Court allowed the appellant’s claim. It granted a declaration that the respondent had breached the appellant’s right to protection under section 4(b) of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago. This protects “the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law.” The High Court judge found it “disturbing” that the JLSC had failed to put measures in place to ensure that part–heard matters would not be negatively affected by the Chief Magistrate’s promotion to the High Court.
The Court of Appeal allowed the respondent’s appeal. It held that – because the appellant had not made any allegations or adduced any evidence against the JLSC specifically – there was no legal or evidential basis for the High Court judge’s criticisms of it. Further, there was no sufficient factual basis for the judge’s finding that the appellant’s constitutional rights had been breached. The Court of Appeal therefore set aside the High Court’s orders and dismissed the appellant’s claim with costs. The appellant now appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Akili Charles

Respondent(s)

Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago

Appeal

Justices

Lord Briggs, Lord Kitchin, Lord Hamblen, Lord Burrows, Lord Richards

Hearing start date

5 October 2022

Hearing finish date

5 October 2022

Watch hearing
5 October 2022 Morning session Afternoon session