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Court says gov't was unfair in change to wage policy for legal officers

Published:Thursday | July 30, 2015 | 10:50 AM

The Government has been cited for unfair conduct relating to the manner in which it changed the compensation policy of legal officers.

The Judicial Review Court has ruled that the Legal Officers Staff Association, which was represented by attorneys at law Patrick Foster and Symone Mayhew, had a legitimate expectation to be consulted before the government decided to change the policy.

However, the court said it could not quash the government’s decision as the policy was endorsed by the House of Representatives, gazetted and became law.

The matter was heard by Justice Raymond King, Marva McDonald-Bishop and Frank Williams.

Attorney-at-law Allan Wood, who represented the government, argued that there was overriding public interest for the government to have made the policy change it did.

Wood also submitted that the government had the right to alter the policy as it saw fit and it should not be fettered in the exercise of its discretion to do so.

The court said the change in policy was not shown to be unconstitutional or illegal.

It further said it had no right to interfere with the valid exercise of the legislative power.

The Association took the government to court in 2009 after it delinked the salary of legal officers from that of judges of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

The then government had granted a 50 per cent salary increase to judges but gave legal officers a five per cent increase.

Legal officers disagreed with the move arguing that their salaries had been tied to that of judges since 1994.

However, the government later indicated that it changed the policy without informing the group.