Trinidad's Chief Justice loses Privy Council appeal
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC -Chief Justice Ivor Archie has lost his case at the Privy Council, in which he had sought to stop the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago from inquiring into the allegations against him.
The Chief Justice had maintained that there was apparent bias, bad faith and procedural unfairness in the association’s investigation but failed to get the Court of Appeal to stop it from proceeding.
In handing down judgement, the privy council unanimously dismissed Archie’s appeal.
The court, in its 16 page judgement, agreed with the Court of Appeal that the law association's investigation cannot be equated with a judicial or quasi-judicial determination of legal rights and liabilities to which the conventional rules of natural justice apply.
“Nor was it necessary for the Board to consider the more difficult question of the extent to which public bodies are required to be impartial in carrying out their statutory functions,” the judgement read.
“Since the local courts in Trinidad and Tobago were far better placed than the Board to consider what the fair-minded and informed observer in Trinidad and Tobago would make of the matters complained of, it was not for the Board to disagree. However, even if the rules of natural justice applicable to the decisions of a judicial or quasi-judicial body did not apply, “public authorities do have a duty to carry out their statutory functions fairly”.
Earlier this year, the Chief Justice was granted conditional leave to appeal to the London-based Privy Council as the Court of Appeal, including Acting Chief Justice, Allan Mendonca, in an unanimous decision, said that High Court judge Nadia Kangaloo was wrong in her ruling and also dismissed Archie’s application for leave to file for judicial review.
Media reports had linked 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 at his home in Gasparillo in southern Trinidad.
Archie was also accused of attempting to fast-track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for various people.
He has denied discussing judges’ security but admitted to recommending people for HDC housing.