Chief Justice suffers judicial setback, goes to Privy Council

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, May 22, CMC – Lawyers for Chief Justice Ivor Archie will on Monday next week leave to appeal to the London-based Privy Council after a Court of Appeal dismissed a lower court ruling that the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) did not have the power to investigate allegations of misconduct against their client.
Appeal Court judges including Acting Chief Justice, Allan Mendonca, Peter Jamadar and Nolan Beareux Tuesday gave an unanimous decision after indicating that High Court judge, Nadia Kangaloo was wrong in her ruling.
The contents of the Appeal Court ruling were not read in the court and the judges also dismissed Archie’s application for leave to file for judicial review.
In March, the High Court judge ruled that no such power is vested under the Legal Professions Act (LPA), and as such, the LATT’s probe is considered null, void, and irrational in law.
She said that the LATT was attempting in its potential, to send the matter to the prime minister to change his mind, after he has made his position clear.
“The Court finds that in all of the circumstances of this case, the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago has acted out with its authority under the LPA in commencing and continuing its enquiry and/investigation into the allegations against the Honourable Chief Justice,” she said.
“The Court, therefore, grants a declaration that the said decision is illegal and/or ultra vires and/or unreasonable and/or irrational and/or contrary to the provisions of the Legal Professions Act and is null and void and of no effect.”
As a result of the ruling, the LATT has been barred from continuing with its investigation. In November last year, the LATT called on Archie to publicly address allegations in the local media, particularly the Sunday and Daily Express newspapers, that he had discussed security arrangements for judges with a personal friend.
Media reports have linked Chief Justice Archie to discussing security arrangements for judges with a personal friend and late last year, the friend, Dillian Johnson, told police that he had information on individuals who want to kill him.
Johnson had survived a gun attack on him at his home in Gasparillo, in southern Trinidad.
The allegations also include that the Chief Justice used his office to request Housing Development Corporation (HDC) housing for persons whom he knew and that he discussed the issue of security for judges with someone who was not a judge.
Attorney Ian Benjamin, one of the attorneys who represented Archie, said his client would be seeking the court’s permission to further appeal the matter at the Privy Council, the island’s highest court.
He asked that that the Appeal Court grant a date for the hearing of an application for conditional leave to approach the British Law Lords on the issue.
The matter will be heard on Monday.

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