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Tuesday 24 April 2018
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Man on trial sues Chief Justice

AN accused man’s lawsuit of the practice direction issued by Chief Justice Ivor Archie on pre-trial defence disclosure will be heard by a High Court judge on Tuesday.

The man, who is on trial in the Port of Spain High Court, filed the lawsuit after the judge ordered him to file a defence statement in accordance with the practice direction, dated December 14, 2017.

The man’s attorney, Joseph Sookoo, in the lawsuit filed this week, has argued that practice direction on pre-trial defence disclosure interfered with an accused person’s right to silence and their fair trial rights. The lawyer also contended that the practice direction sought to bypass parliamentary scrutiny and was mandatory in nature.

In a pre-action protocol letter sent to the CJ in January, the man’s attorneys gave Archie notice of their intention to file a judicial review claim to have the practice direction quashed and deemed unconstitutional. According to the lawsuit, the practice direction does not form part of the new CPR 2016, which came into force on April 18, 2017.

It contends that any rules of court made by the Rules Committee were subject to negative resolution of Parliament and although the CJ was empowered to issue practice directions, those he gave in December contravened an accused’s right to silence.

“Practice directions as contemplated under the rules are directions as to the practice and procedure of any court within the scope of the rules. They are not meant to replace and/or add to the rules as they are not equivalent to delegated legislation under the purview of Parliament,” the lawsuit contends.

“The practice direction purports to import a new rule not contemplated in the rules.” The lawsuit said it was unconstitutional to create a sanction for failure to comply with the practice direction or to force a defendant to disclose his defence.

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