ST AUGUSTINE MP Prakash Ramadhar says the question of whether Commonwealth lawyers should be appointed locally to serve as High Court judges is a case of “quality over quantity.” Ramadhar, a former legal affairs minister, was commenting on concerns raised on this matter by Independent Senator Sophia Chote SC on Tuesday.
Chote was speaking during debate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Supreme Court of Judicature and Children) Bill, 2018 in the Senate. The bill will be considered at committee stage when the Senate sits on Friday from 1.30 pm.
The House of Representatives will deliberate on Senate amendments to the bill when it sits on Wednesday from 1.30 pm. Ramadhar said there is a terrible lack of transparency in the way that judges are appointed in TT. He explained that until this transparency could be provided, it may be unwise to bring in Commonwealth lawyers to potentially serve as judges.
Ramadhar said there must be clarity about, the number of local lawyers who applied to be appointed as judges, how many were refused and if there were legitimate reasons for those refusals. He said these issues must be examined together with the question of a shortage of judges in TT.
Former attorney general Garvin Nicholas believed that preference should first be given to local lawyers in terms of judicial appointments.
He said this was the best way to grow the local bar and jurisprudence. In cases when no suitably qualified attorney could be found locally, Nicholas said consideration could be given to Commonwealth lawyers.
Saying he partially agreed with Chote, Nicholas said Commonwealth lawyers currently sit on the Privy Council which remains TT’s final appellate court.