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DPP, Attorney General among senior legal officers to get salary hike

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Paula Llewellyn, director of public prosecutions.
Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte.

The basic salaries of Government's senior legal officers like the director of public prosecutions (DPP) and the attorney general will be increased come April 1, as part of a reclassification exercise, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has said.

The chief parliamentary counsel, head of the Legal Reform Department, and the solicitor general are the other positions.

"I am relinking the salaries of senior legal officers to the judiciary so that their salaries will improve significantly on April 1," Chuck told The Gleaner.

Under Section 94 of the Constitution, which establishes the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the holder "shall not be qualified to hold or act ... unless he is qualified for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court".

Before deductions, a Supreme Court judge's basic salary is about $6 million annually, or $524,000 monthly. They also get allowances for housing, entertainment, library, leave, robing and security.

"When I came to office and I heard that the DPP's salary was about half the salary of a judge I thought that was wrong. So I took a submission to the Cabinet to have a relinking with the salary of the judges."

"We think also, at the present time, that the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the Director of Legal Reform ... are of the same calibre [of a Supreme Court judge].

Chuck said the senior legal officers are not just getting a salary increase. "It's an upgrading of their positions and it's only at the top (senior legal officers)."

The Government in 1994 approved the linking of the basic salaries of legal officers with salaries of members of the judiciary, as part of efforts to make it attractive for talented officers to remain in the key positions.

The policy was discarded in 2008 and the Legal Officers Staff Association sued, arguing that there was no prior consultation and it had a 'legitimate expectation' of increases equal with judges based on the 1994 decision. The association ultimately lost.

"Under the Portia Simpson Miller government, a submission was made to re-establish the linkage of the judges' salary to senior legal officers in the public service because the reasons why the linkage was established in the first place remain valid," said Mark Golding, opposition spokesman on justice.

He said he was pleased the Government has approved the submission.