A soldier will be allowed to continue his complaint against the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) over his promotion.
On Wednesday, Justice Frank Seepersad dismissed an application by the CDS and the commanding officer of the regiment (CO) for the leave granted to warrant class officer Marlon Ollivierra to be set aside on the basis that he failed to act promptly and filed his claim out of time.
The CDS also asked for Ollivierra’s lawsuit to be struck out, on the basis that he could have taken his complaint to the Defence Council.
Ollivierra claims there has been a delay by the CDS in reinstating him to his rightful place on the seniority list in the Defence Force. He also maintains a recommendation to promote him below another WCO 1 was unlawful despite his seniority. He wants the court to instruct the defendants to put him in the correct position on the seniority roll in accordance with the established procedures following the completion of senior non-commissioned officers cadre/senior non-commissioned officers professional development course.
In his ruling, Seepersad said Ollivierra’s claim was made promptly, since it was only in April 2023 that he learned of his placement on the seniority roll. He rejected the contention the lawsuit was filed five years too late.
“The evidence suggests that the claimant became aware that his issue was not addressed when an error was still reflected on the correspondence which was addressed to the CDS…
“Further, the claimant stated that: ‘…I was assured that it would be rectified, and I awaited the amended publications (publications are the means by which matters come to the general attention of the military public). This did not occur…I was unaware that my seniority was not adjusted until I saw the correspondence on April 28, 2023.’”
The judge said it was then that Ollivierra filed his claim for judicial review.
He also did not agree that Ollivierra had an alternative form of redress, pointing out that the CDS was a member of the Defence Council.
He said the alternative remedy suggested would amount to a complaint of the actions of the commanding officer to the commanding officer
Seepersad also reminded there was no reply to Ollivierra’s pre-action letter, which warned he would approach the court if his placement on the seniority list was not corrected.
Ollivierra is represented by Arden Williams and Mariah Ramrattan. The CDS and the CO were represented by attorneys Stefan Jaikaran and Vandana Ramadhar.
The defendants were ordered to pay Ollivierra’s legal costs for the failed application.