Damages assessment under way in unlawful search-and-seizure case

Published: Thursday | November 29, 2012 Comments 0

Supreme Court judge Raymund King began assessing damages into the suit brought by several attorneys-at-law, including Ernest Smith and Hugh Thompson, arising from the unlawful search and seizure of documents by the police from their law offices in January 2003.

Ernest Smith completed his testimony at the three-day hearing which began on Monday in the Supreme Court.

The case was adjourned yesterday for other dates to be fixed by the registrar of the Supreme Court for the continuation of the hearing next year.

The police claimed the search was done under the Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters) Act, and was to to assist the Canadian government in the case of 57-year-old Canadian national Robert Bidwell who was wanted in connection with drug-related offences.

Thompson and Smith were retained to represent Bidwell.

The lawyers filed a motion in the Constitutional Court contending that the search and seizure were unlawful. The motion was dismissed and they appealed the ruling.

The Court of Appeal ruled in December 2007 that the search and seizure were indeed unlawful and were in breach of legal professional privilege.

ordered to return files

The defendants, who were the attorney general, Deputy Superintendent of Police Karl Plumber and the director of public prosecutions, were ordered to return the files.

Checks yesterday revealed that Thompson's files have not yet been returned.

Attorneys-at-law Nesta Claire Smith, Marsha Smith and Curline Bailey are the other claimants in the case and they are being represented by Queen's Counsel Jacqueline Samuels Brown, Bert Samuels and attorney-at-law Georgia Gibson Henlin.

Solicitor General Nicole Foster Pusey is representing the Government.

The claimants are seeking compensation for breach of their constitutional rights, trespass and false imprisonment. They said in court documents that by reason of the unlawful detention of their files, they were prevented from carrying on their law practice.

When Thompson filed his suit in 2009, he said in court documents that he was seeking more than $100 million in special damages from January 2003 to 2008, as well as additional compensation for additional loss of income until the files were returned.

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