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Case details

Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago (Appellant) v Akili Charles (Respondent) No 2 (Trinidad and Tobago)

Case ID: JCPC 2022/0034

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

Case summary

Issue

The central issue is whether section 5(1) of the Bail Act 1994 is inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore susceptible to being struck down.

Facts

Mr Charles and five others were charged on 5 December 2010 for the murder of a man, and kept in custody on remand from that date pending trial. Mr Charles’ preliminary inquiry ("PI") commenced on 16 January 2012 before the Chief Magistrate and was halted on 3 April 2017 when the Chief Magistrate was elevated to the High Court. The Acting Chief Magistrate decided that the PI should be heard de novo. The new PI was discharged on 21 May 2019 on a no case submission, and Mr Charles was released from custody, nine years after first being detained.

On 6 February 2020, Mr Charles brought a constitutional motion for a declaration that section 5(1) of the Bail Act, which provides that bail cannot be granted in cases of murder (and certain other offences), is unconstitutional. The Act had been passed under section 13 of the Constitution.

The judge dismissed the motion, holding that section 5(1) of the Bail Act was saved from challenge as an "existing law" by section 6 of the Constitution because it re-enacted the position in force when the Constitution came into effect in 1976. The Court of Appeal allowed Mr Charles’ appeal, holding that section 5(1) of the Bail Act was unconstitutional because: (i) it derogated from the fundamental rights and freedoms in sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution; (ii) it was not an "existing law" and therefore it was not saved under section 6 of the Constitution; and (iii) it was not protected by virtue of being passed under section 13 because the derogation was not shown to be reasonably justifiable in a society that has proper respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago

Respondent(s)

Akili Charles

Appeal

Justices

Lord Hodge, Lord Kitchin, Lord Hamblen, Lord Burrows, Lord Stephens

Hearing start date

8 June 2022

Hearing finish date

9 June 2022

Watch hearing
8 June 2022 Morning session Afternoon session
9 June 2022 Morning session Afternoon session