Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Letter of the Day | Golding confused about Supreme Court's powers

Published:Monday | March 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I won't comment on the pending Supreme Court case involving Ian Hayles, but I must correct the grossly erroneous legal opinions essayed by Bruce Golding in The Sunday Gleaner of March 18, 2017. When a former prime minister can be so confused about our constitutional arrangements, it only proves what I've been writing for years, namely, that we're not properly educated in civics.

Mr Golding's conclusions are all premised on English constitutional precedent and practice, and the report of a recent British Judicial Committee, which, according to him, "asserted that this is an absolute privilege and is of the highest constitutional importance. Any attempt by the courts to go beyond that constitutional boundary would be unconstitutional. No super-injunction or any other court order could conceivably restrict or prohibit parliamentary debate or proceedings".

We just don't get it. Although we've forced a Westminster model into our very different constitutional framework, the fact is, Westminster was conceived in a legal system that features an unwritten constitution wherein Parliament is supreme. Accordingly, no English court can interfere with parliamentary practice.

Jamaica has a written Constitution that is expressly made supreme. Accordingly, it matters not what statute or practice is prescribed by Parliament (or how it's expressed), our Supreme Court is the final arbiter as to whether Parliament has contravened any Jamaican's constitutional rights.

Mr Golding seems anxious to read separation of powers as separating the judiciary from Parliament, but is less keen to separate Parliament from the judiciary. I recommend that he stops reading up on British constitutional law and read the recent Supreme Court decision on injunctions against Parliament (currently on appeal ) of Sykes J in Jamaican Bar Association v Attorney General and General Legal Council [2014] JMSC Civ. 179.