Law Assoc acted unlawfully

Justice Nadia Kangaloo
Justice Nadia Kangaloo


DAYS before he is expected to proceed on a six-month sabbatical from the Judiciary, Chief Justice Ivor Archie was victorious in his legal pre-emptive strike against the Law Association, successfully blocking it from continuing with its investigation of his conduct.

In a ruling delivered before a packed courtroom at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain yesterday, Justice Nadia Kangaloo ruled that the association acted unlawfully and without authority by commencing and continuing an investigation into allegations against Archie. She granted the declarations that the decision of the association was illegal, unreasonable, irrational and contrary to the provisions of the Legal Profession Act and was null, void and of no effect.

Kangaloo said the investigation was a shadow of section 137 of the Constitution which provides strict guidelines for the removal of a judge from office.

She quashed the decision of the association to continue with its investigation. Her ruling now prevents the association from taking to its membership a report compiled by an internal investigative team and the advice of two external advisers on whether the question of triggering the impeachment provisions of section 137 of the Constitution should be referred to the Prime Minister.

The association had intended to take the report and its advice to its members at a special meeting on March 15. The association has, since late last year, commenced its own investigation into Archie’s alleged misconduct. The allegations are that the CJ discussed the matter of personal security for judges with someone outside of the Judiciary and that he recommended people to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) for accelerated housing grants.

The association, in a statement to its members late yesterday evening, said the council met after the ruling and has instructed its attorneys to lodge an appeal and apply for an expedited hearing to be heard before its special general meeting next week Thursday at Queen’s Hall in Port of Spain.

Sources said the association’s membership can still meet to discuss the allegations without referring to the report or the advice of its external advisors.

In her ruling, Kangaloo quoted from Sir Ellis Clarke on the question of removal of judges during a meeting of commentators on the draft Republican Constitution at Queen’s Hall in 1962 as well as from Archie himself in Panday vs Virgil in which he decried the use of letters, articles or reports in the media which, he said, could be biassed, inaccurate or written with an undisclosed agenda.

She said the association from as early as December 18, indicated to its members that its “end- game” after it received the advice was to refer the question of misbehaviour by the CJ to the prime minister.

“Let us not forget that by the time, there had continued a slew of newspaper articles containing allegations against the Chief Justice and that the Prime Minister had openly stated on December 6, 2017 that he would not get involved.”

“Is the Law Association attempting to send to the Prime Minister (the decision of the membership) to change his mind when he has already made his position clear?”

She further questioned, “What was the necessity for the President of the Law Association, to also be the president or indeed a member of the committee, to ascertain/substantiate the allegations against the Honourable Chief Justice?”

Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes’ meeting with the media and the HDC was also criticised by the judge, adding that the bar association’s role was envisioned in the legal authority, quoted by the association, to be at the section 137 tribunal stage when witnesses are called and the CJ a full participant of the process.

“It does not empower the Law Association to conduct an investigation in any terms,” she said, adding that the sole procedure for doing so was set out in section 137.

“In the instant case, this Court finds as a matter of law that the removal of judges is enshrined, dictated and provided for solely under the constitution for this very reason, to ensure procedural fairness to judges and the Chief Justice who enjoy security of tenure thereunder,” she emphasised.

Despite ruling that the association acted unlawfully, she however, ruled that they were not guilty of apparent bias against the Chief Justice.

The judge will rule on the issue of the quantum of legal costs to be paid by the association to the Chief Justice.

Archie was represented by Senior Counsel John Jeremie, Ian Benjamin, Kerwyn Garcia, Keith Scotland and Raisa Caesar.

Leading the case for the association was Christopher Hamel-Smith SC, along with Robin Otway, Jason Mootoo and Rishi Dass.


"Law Assoc acted unlawfully"

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