HAVING run out of time to take any legal action against the State, the Court of Appeal on Thursday gently nudged attorneys for the government’s spy agency, the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) and former employee Candice Hoyte, to hold discussions.
The suggestion was made after Justices of Appeal Nolan Bereaux and Charmaine Pemberton dismissed Hoyte’s procedural appeal in which they were asked to determine if the SSA can be sued in its own right.
Hoyte filed a claim against the SSA after she fell, injuring herself on the job.
After dismissing her appeal, and upholding a counter-appeal of the State, Pemberton raised the issue of the parties holding discussions since the statute of limitations, preventing Hoyte from taking further legal action, had kicked in.
She made it clear she was not advocating the State to accept liability.
“I was careful not to say that, but meet and speak,” she said, a position also supported by Bereaux.
In delivering the unanimous ruling on Hoyte’s procedural appeal, Bereaux said there was agreement by the court that the SSA was not a corporate body, and therefore could not be sued.
He also held the claim could not be saved even if the Attorney General was joined as a party to it.
During the hearing of the procedural appeal in March, Hoyte’s challenge was struck out by a High Court judge, who agreed with the State that the SSA was not capable of being sued, as it was not a corporate body under the legislation.
However, Hoyte’s attorney Douglas Mendes, SC, argued that the legal authorities on the issue say the legislation – in this case the SSA Act – did not have to declare it a corporate body or capable of being sued, but the court can infer such.
“The SSA possesses all the inferences that it is capable of being sued,” he said, adding that it was a matter of interpretation.
In response to the appeal, state attorney Randall Hector argued that the SSA was not a corporate body but a part of the State itself, and not just a servant or agent of the State.
The State has also appealed a ruling on the latter by the judge who struck down Hoyte’s claim.
Hector said the judge was right to find that the SSA was not a corporate body, but was wrong in her finding that it was not an agent of the State. He argued the SSA did not possess a legal personality, and performed the core functions of the Government.
Hector said the SSA Act gave the unit autonomy, but not corporate autonomy.
He also admitted that it was because the SSA had the power to infringe on a citizen’s constitutional rights that government worked closely with it. He likened the agency to the UK’s counter-intelligence and security agency, MI5.
Also appearing for Hoyte was Clay Hackett. Cherise Nixon, Tracy Vidale and Kendra Mark- Gorden also appeared for the SSA at the appeal.