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CCJ strikes down mandatory death penalty in Barbados

CCJ strikes down mandatory death penalty in Barbados

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun. 27, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled that the mandatory death penalty in Barbados is unconstitutional.

The CCJ, which is the highest court for Barbados, made the ruling based on two unrelated death penalty cases from Barbados.

The cases, Jabari Sensimania Nervais v The Queen and Dwayne Omar Severin v The Queen, were consolidated because both appeals challenged the murder convictions of each of the men and the constitutionality of the mandatory death sentence for murder in Barbados.

The Court stated that a section of the Offences Against the Person Act was unconstitutional because it provided for a mandatory sentence of death.

In addition, both men had their appeals against their convictions dismissed.

Before examining the issues raised by the appeal, the regional court considered the state of the mandatory death penalty in Barbados for murder and found that it was indisputable that the nation, through its actions, had acknowledged that it had an obligation to remove such mandatory sentence under section 2 of the Offences against the Person Act.

The court also noted that Barbados had also given undertakings to the CCJ and the Inter American Court of Human Rights to rectify the mandatory sentence which was reflected in the Barbados Privy Council’s consistent commutation of the mandatory death penalty.

The CCJ held that section 11 of the Constitution, which gives the right to protection of the law, was enforceable.

The CCJ also found that the mandatory death penalty breached that right as it deprived a court of the opportunity to exercise the quintessential judicial function of tailoring the punishment to fit the crime.

The CCJ ordered that the appellants be expeditiously brought before the Supreme Court for resentencing.

As it relates to the cases  – Nervais was convicted of the murder of Jason Barton and the mandatory sentence of death by hanging was imposed on him.

It’s reported that Barton was selling from a booth when an alarm was raised that caused him, and the people gathered around, to run away. Gunshots were fired by a group of men and  . Barton was struck by a bullet and died.

Nervais was  later arrested and charged with Barton’s murder after he made oral statements and a written confession to a police officer.

The Court of Appeal in Barbados dismissed his appeal against conviction and affirmed his sentence.

In the other case,   Severin was convicted before a judge and jury for the murder of  Virgil Barton in the parish of St. Phillip.

The prosecution relied heavily on the evidence of  Barton’s nephew,  who testified that he saw two men shoot at the deceased.

During investigations,  the police conducted a search of   Severin’s residence and found a Taurus semi-automatic gun along with thirty-one 9mm rounds in his bedroom.

In his appeal to the CCJ,   Severin challenged the reliability of  his nephew’s evidence, the fairness of the informal identification parade, and the instructions given by the judge to the jury at the trial.

The appeals were heard together on January 25 by the Bench of the CCJ comprising the  CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron.

These are the last judgments that the Byron will deliver as CCJ President as he will demit office on July 4.

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Date set for CCJ referendum

Date set for CCJ referendum

by STAFF WRITER

JOHN’S, Antigua, Jun. 14, CMC – The government has announced that a refendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), will be held here on November 26.

Last month, the Gaston Browne led administration revealed plans to hold a referendum by year end on whether or not the island will adopt the Trinidad and Tobago based CCJ, as its final court. 

In announcing the date of the referendum, the government said an education programme, geared towards the process, will most likely intensify following carnival celebrations. 

The CCJ was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, but while many of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to the court’s Original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica are members of its Appellate jurisdiction.

The CCJ also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

In 2016, the government had hoped that the referendum would have been held by March 2017, however,   opposition legislators and others then warned that citizens were not fully educated on the issue.

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Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie

Government minister wants debate on decriminalisation of marijuana

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jun 1, CMC – A senior government minister says he remains baffled as to why Dominicans are afraid of debating the issue of decriminalisation of marijuana whether it is or medicinal or other purposes.

“There’s a debate on marijuana…the whole world is debating marijuana, whether it is for medicinal purposes, whether it is for religious purposes. Are we going to remain in our little world and afraid to take about marijuana? It is a discussion we need to have,” Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie said.

Deputy Prime Minister Reginald Austrie

Austrie, who is also the Minister of Agriculture, told a farmer’s consultation in Salisbury on the island’s west coast that Dominicans needed to discuss and debate the issue.

“In St. Vincent (and the Grenadines) they talking about it, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) has taken a decision to begin to talk about it. Why are we not talking about it more in Dominica?

“That’s the question I am asking. Are we prepared as a country to begin to talk about it. It is too much like a big stick within Dominica when the rest of the world is already talking about it,” Austrie said.

He told the consultation that Dominica “should start talking about it” adding “as to what we decide is another matter.

“But you can only make a decision after discussion. So let us start with the discussion and we will see where the discussion is going and if the discussion is let us end that talk about marijuana, we will end it. If the talk is we continue the discussion until some decisions are taken in that regard..”

“We live in a modern and enlighten world and maybe we may have a comparative advantage,” Austrie said, telling the consultation “I am not saying to use it, I am not saying to smoke it, I am not saying to sell it, but if we can grow it for medicinal purposes , the guys can come down here, they can buy it, we can package it, we can sell it, let us have that discussion on those subject matters,” Austrie said.

At least two CARICOM countries –Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda- have advanced plans for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes in their respective countries.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the initiative would be undertaken in a controlled environment.

“I want to make it abundantly clear that my government is not advocating the use of cannabis, we are against anything that is smoked.

“We do accept, though, on the other hand, that marijuana utilised in different forms has significant medicinal benefits and certainly we’ll move pretty quickly to ensure that we legalise the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” he said.

However, the executive director of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr James Hosepdales, urged regional countries to “proceed with an abundance of caution” when it come to the decriminalisation of marijuana.

Hospedales said there is much discussion on the decriminalisation issue and that there have been several times in history where populations and societies have gone very liberal with substances of abuse.

“The Americans are in the middle of a big opioid crisis and some many decades ago they had a huge problem with addiction and especially among white women,” he said.

“We in the Caribbean have a problem with marijuana and clogging up of the courts and the justice system and that’s understandable to try and reduce that side effect. I think though, in introducing these kinds of public policies, consideration has to be given to the full range of impact, he said, noting that if marijuana had to be decriminalised, there may be repercussions.

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same sex

Ban on same-sex weddings comes into effect

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Jun 1, CMC – A controversial new law which bans same-sex marriage in Bermuda but gives gay and straight couples the chance to enter into civil unions has come into effect.

The Domestic Partnership Act 2018 (DPA) became law Friday as marriage-equality campaigners await a ruling from the Supreme Court on their attempt to have part of the legislation struck out on constitutional grounds.

same sexThe DPA was approved by this British Overseas Territory’s parliament last December, sparking criticism from human rights activists and UK MPs, including Prime Minister Theresa May, who said she was “seriously disappointed”.

Opposition British Labour Party MP Chris Bryant, a former Overseas Territories Minister who forced a debate on the bill in the House of Commons in London, said the law reversal would make Britain a “laughing stock in the human rights field”.

Governor John Rankin gave the legislation royal assent on February 7 but Home Affairs Minister Walton Brown, who tabled the legislation, deferred its implementation until June 1 to give gay couples who had already made wedding plans extra time to tie the knot.

The DPA reversed a Supreme Court ruling in May last year — two months before the ruling One Bermuda Alliance lost the general election to the Progressive Labour Party — that paved the way for gay couples to get married in Bermuda and on ships registered in the island.

The Supreme Court decision came in a judgment by Justice Charles-Etta Simmons after Bermudian Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche, his Canadian partner, litigated against the Registrar-General for refusing to post their wedding banns.

Despite their landmark victory, Godwin and DeRoche chose to marry in Canada, but there were 10 same-sex marriages on the island up to the middle of February, plus four at sea on Bermuda-flagged ships.

Banns were also posted for two more maritime marriages.

The latest civil proceedings in Supreme Court were brought against Attorney- General Kathy Lynn Simmons by gay Bermudians Rod Ferguson and Maryellen Jackson and the charity OutBermuda.

The plaintiffs claimed the part of the DPA that reaffirmed that a marriage is void unless the parties are male and female was unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley reserved judgment in the case until a later date.

Bermuda is the only country in the world to reverse its position on marriage equality. The Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001.

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CCJ buildings - Trinidad

CCJ: Beware the politicians in (judges’) robes, the wolves in sheep’s clothing

Jamaica Observer

Editorial

May 24, 2018

CCJ buildings – Trinidad

As a country, we have never been as afflicted by intellectual schizophrenia as we are with the decision on whether to accept the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final court of appeal, replacing the United Kingdom Privy Council.

Jamaica is not the only one to be so afflicted, it would seem, because only four Caribbean Community (Caricom) nations have made the CCJ their final appellate court since it was established in 2001 and began operating in 2005.

The reason for this dual personality in Caricom countries is no doubt related to the fact that bright people who are for regional integration can see both the advantages and disadvantages of having a CCJ.

Indeed, it is instructive that the majority of the 15 member countries of Caricom have signed on to the original jurisdiction of the CCJ — which functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional bloc — while only Barbados, Belize, Dominica, and Guyana have signed on to the appellate jurisdiction.

This suggests to us that those who are hesitant to replace the UK Privy Council with the CCJ are not saying that regional judges are inferior. They trust them to interpret the revised treaty, which is critical to holding together the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.

The main stumbling block in the way of making the CCJ the final court of appeal is the overwhelming view that our politicians, most of them at any rate, are irrevocably in love with their own sense of power to intervene, adversely, we might add, in the running of local and regional institutions.

We in this space have in the past embraced the notion of a Caribbean court of appeal that might enrich regional jurisprudence and conceivably be less expensive to access than the London-based UK Privy Council.

But over the years we have grown more despondent as we see the propensity of the political ‘old boys’ club’ to rob our institutions of the impartiality that is paramount to public confidence in their integrity.

Until we are certain that we will have in place a legal superstructure that mirrors the confidence inspired by the Privy Council — untouchable by local politics — it would be foolhardy to make the CCJ our final appellate court.

No country which means itself well would go that route at this time. That is why we fully understand the sentiments expressed by Barbadian Prime Minister Freundel Stuart who has indicated his intention to pull the island out of the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction if his Democratic Labour Party wins a third term in today’s general elections there.

“I’m not going to have Barbados disrespected by any politicians wearing robes. It is not going to happen,” he has declared.

We in this space have never lost sight of the collective wisdom of the Grenadian people who voted against the CCJ by a margin of 9,492 in favour and 12,434 against in a 2016 referendum, despite the fact that the leaders of government were in favour of the CCJ.

A second referendum on the CCJ is being now organised in Grenada. We would not be surprised if the results are the same as 2016.

 

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Wendy C Grenade

University lecturer commends ruling of CCJ

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 21, CMC –A senior lecturer at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has welcomed the ruling of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) regarding the registration of Commonwealth citizens to be included in the voters list ahead of the May 24 general election here.

Wendy C Grenade
Wendy C Grenade

St. Lucian academic, Professor Eddy Ventose had challenged the decision of the electoral authorities here to deny him the opportunity to be registered even though he has been resident in the country for several years. The matter was heard during an unprecedented sitting of the Court, two Sundays ago.

In its ruling, the CCJ, which is Barbados’s final court, said that the “long standing policy of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in relation to Commonwealth citizens to register as electors … is unlawful and ultra vires.

“The Court is satisfied that on the basis of judicial finding pronounced in this matter, which has not been appealed, the applicant has satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector,” the CCJ ruled, threatening to jail the Chief Electoral Officer, Angela Taylor, if she failed to obey the ruling.

Dr. Wendy C Grenade, a senior lecturer in Political Science in the Department of Government, Sociology, Social Work and Psychology, said the “CCJ must be commended for acting with a sense of urgency in the Ventose case.

“Its responsiveness in dispensing justice to Professor Ventose and by extension to other Commonwealth Caribbean citizens in Barbados, must be applauded. The CCJ also promoted transparency in its deliberations by utilising technology to livestream the court session.

“This was a sophisticated act of techno-democracy, where the CCJ bridged the divide between itself and ordinary Caribbean people. The virtual court demystified lofty judicial proceedings. This was quite refreshing and reassuring, particularly for some who question the efficacy of the CCJ,” she said.

The lecturer said that the rule of law is a central pillar of any well-functioning democracy and that when state officials ignore or seek to frustrate rulings of the court, justice is denied and democratic norms are ruptured.

“The CCJ must be commended for demonstrating its judicial independence by protecting the rights of Commonwealth Caribbean citizens from the arbitrary exercise of power by a Caribbean state.

“The CCJ’s warning that Barbados’ Chief Electoral Officer will be imprisoned and/or fined if she does not comply with its ruling, sends a strong signal of its seriousness of purpose and its intention to apply the full extent of the law to ensure justice for Caribbean citizens. It also demonstrates that the state is not above the law and that state officials can be held accountable for their actions.”

She said that the Ventose case is also significant because it demonstrates the importance of judicial review as a critical means through which citizens can claim legal redress against laws or policies that infringe on their rights.

“Judicial review is a powerful weapon available to citizens in their battle for rights and justice. One can argue that, given the remoteness of the Privy Council and the relatively high costs associated with taking matters to the UK-based court, judicial review has not been a norm in the Caribbean’s legal praxis.

“However, the proximity of the CCJ to the Caribbean’s reality, provides impetus for increased citizen activism through judicial review. Professor Ventose must be complimented for channelling his legal skill to an activist cause,” she added.

The lecturer said that beyond the legal question, a major implication of the Ventose judgement is that Caribbean people who reside in other Caribbean territories must feel a sense of belonging to the Caribbean sister state where they live, work and pay taxes.

“The right to vote, as contentious as it may be, is one of the most cherished democratic rights, particularly for people whose history has been replete with oppression and denial of suffrage. The CCJ’s judgement in this case has affirmed the enfranchisement of the Caribbean “other”.

“Fifty odd years after independence, it is encouraging that an indigenous Caribbean Court can do so. This renews hope in the promise of regionalism.

“The ruling in this case is a victory not only for Commonwealth Caribbean citizens in Barbados but for Caribbean jurisprudence, Caribbean democracy and regional integration. It reinforces the urgency for other CARICOM countries to put systems in place to accede to the CCJ in its appellate jurisdiction.’ To date, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have done so, although, except for the Bahamas, Haiti and Montserrat, all other CARICOM countries are members of the CCJ in its original jurisdiction.

The Grenada-born lecturer said that importantly, “this landmark judgement is most timely for Grenada as that country seeks to re-open the conversation on another referendum to facilitate Grenada’s accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ, replacing the UK-based Privy Council as Grenada’s highest Court of Appeal”.

She said the case “highlights several benefits of the CCJ, which should be the catalyst of a YES campaign going forward”.

http://cananewsonline.com/main/barbados-elections-university-lecturer-commends-ruling-of-ccj/?utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter

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CCJ rules St Lucian academic should be registered to vote in B’dos elections

CCJ rules St Lucian academic should be registered to vote in B’dos elections

By CMC

 

Eddy Ventose

(CMC) — The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Sunday ruled that a St Lucian-born academic should be registered as an elector to cast a ballot in the May 24 general elections in Barbados and warned the Chief Elections Officer that failure to carry out the order by midday tomorrow could land her in jail for contempt of court or be fined.

In an unprecedented hearing, the CCJ, which is the Barbados final court, said that Eddy Ventose, a professor of law at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), had satisfied “the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector”.

In the ruling of the five-member panel of judges, read out by the CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron, the court told Angela Taylor, the Chief Electoral Officer “shall register or cause the applicant to be registered as an elector before 12 noon on Monday, the 14th day of May, 2018”.

Dennis said that if Taylor ‘does not comply with the order, you may be held to be in contempt of court and you may be imprisoned and or fined”.

Barbadians go to the polls on May 24 to elect a new government with the contest expected to be between the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) headed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the main opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) headed by Mia Mottley, who is seeking to become the first woman head of government in this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

Election day workers, including police, will cast their ballots on May 17.

Political observers had said that the matter before the CCJ, which is Barbados’ highest court, has implications not only for the appellant but also for Commonwealth citizens, living in Barbados, who want to be registered to vote in the general elections.

Ventose, who has lived in Barbados for several years, sought to be included on the Barbados electoral register. He had alleged that under the prevailing laws he is qualified and entitled to be registered.

The Court of Appeal last week ruled that Ventose was entitled to be registered to vote but stopped short of compelling the chief electoral officer to do so, instead, ordering the chief electoral officer to determine Professor Ventose’s claim within 24 hours.

Ventose had asked the CCJ to declare that his name should be on the final voters’ list ahead of its publication this week.

The CCJ said that the request for appeal came late Friday and it responded by scheduling the hearing for Sunday.

Dennis said the application for special leave to appeal filed on Friday had been granted as well as the application “to treat this hearing as an urgent matter.

“The application for special leave to appeal is being treated as the substantive hearing of the appeal,” he said, adding “the appeal is allowed and the orders of the Court of Appeal are set aside”.

Dennis said that the CCJ is satisfied that the applicant has locus standi…under the Administrative Justice Act …to bring judicial review application under Section three of the act. “The long standing policy of the Electoral and Boundaries Commission in relation to Commonwealth citizens to register as electors… is unlawful and ultra vires.

“The court is satisfied that on the basis of judicial finding pronounced in this matter, which has not been appealed, the applicant has satisfied the necessary legal and regulatory conditions for registration as an elector,” Dennis said.

The costs for this court and the court below were awarded to the appellant.

 

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CCCJ

CCJ restores not guilty verdict in “Lusignan massacre” in Guyana

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, May 11, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice Friday restored the 2013 acquittals of  James Hyles and  Mark Williams over their alleged involvement in what has been dubbed the ‘Lusignan Massacre’, in Guyana despite substantial procedural errors at trial.

Gunmen on January 6, 2008, went from house to house on the East Coast Demerara village of Lusignan armed with high powered rifles and killed 11 people including five children, as they slept in their homes.  Hyles and Williams were indicted on 11counts of murder and during their trial the presiding judge allowed a request by Hyles’s attorney to question jurors, before they were sworn in, due to the widespread pre-trial publicity of the case.

CCCJThe trial judge as well as state and defence counsel actively participated in this exercise.

The main prosecution witnesses were two members of the gang allegedly responsible for the massacre, one of whom was charged in connection with the massacre. However, the charges against him were withdrawn a mere two weeks before the trial began.

Hyles and William both denied involvement in the killings, but the jury on found both men not guilty on August 2, 2013 on all counts.

The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the acquittals, under the newly amended Court of Appeal Act, on the basis that there were material irregularities in the trial.

The Court of Appeal agreed, allowed the appeal, overturned the verdicts of not guilty and sent the matter back to the High Court for a retrial.

But in their appeal to the CCJ, Guyana’s highest court, the appellants urged the Court to allow the appeal on the basis that the DPP’s new power to appeal an acquittal breached their constitutional right to the protection of law. I

They argued that the new law offended the principle against double jeopardy, which prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same, or similar, charges and on the same facts.

However, the Court rejected this argument and reminded the appellants that the wording of the Constitution contemplated the possibility of such an appeal and that in principle, the rule against double jeopardy only protected acquittals which were affirmed by the appellate courts.

The Court held that the appellants’ acquittals did not fall into that category.

Before considering the specific procedural issues, the CCJ acknowledged that the requirement, that the acquittal had to be the result of a procedural error(s) or flaw(s) of the trial judge, was a steep hill for an appellate court to climb.

As such, the Court constructed a test specifically for application in prosecution appeals against acquittals. It held that that the prosecution must satisfy the Court that “given, on the one hand, the nature and weight on the evidence and, on the other hand, the seriousness of the judicial error(s) or procedural flaw(s) it can with a substantial degree of certainty be inferred that had the error(s) or flaw(s) not occurred, the trial would not have resulted in the acquittal of the accused”.

While the CCJ did not agree fully with the findings of the lower court, it found that there were some material irregularities, including the way in which the questioning of the jurors was conducted and the failure of the trial judge to investigate an allegation of improper communication between a juror and man alleged to be Hyles’ father.

However, on application of the test, the CCJ held that it could not with the required degree of certainty infer that the acquittals were the result of the errors and that it was possible that the jury simply did not believe, beyond reasonable doubt, the evidence presented by the state.

The CCJ allowed the appeal, set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal of Guyana and restored the jury’s verdict of acquittal of the appellants.

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CCJ rules in favour of Barbadian company

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Mar 26, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Monday said it had no jurisdiction to hear a case in which three employees of a hotel in Barbados had been dismissed and ordered that the matter be heard by the Court of Appeal there expeditiously.

In its ruling the CCJ, the Barbados final court, heard that the workers had first challenged their dismissal in the Magistrate’s Court on the basis that they were sent home without cause in breach of the procedures outlined in their contracts.

The Magistrate Court determined on September 24, 2014, that the way the employees were terminated did violate the terms of their contract.

On the same day, the company, Sandy lane Company Limited, through its attorney, verbally informed the magistrate of its intention to appeal the decision.

The attorney then followed this with a letter to the Magistrate on October I, 2014, informing the  magistrate that he was appealing and requesting the court’s reasons for its decision.

When the matter came on for hearing before the Court of Appeal, it considered whether it could hear the matters since the appeals were not filed within seven days from the date of the magistrate’s judgment as is required by the Magistrate’s Court Act.

But Sandy Lane argued that the appeal was filed in time since the applicable rules governing appeals to the Court of Appeal are found in the Civil Procedure Rules which provide for a time limit of 28 days to appeal. It was also argued that it had given verbal, and written notices, within the seven-day period which would have satisfied the time limit under the Magistrate’s Court Act.

The Court of Appeal, referring to an earlier judgment of the CCJ, determined that its jurisdiction to hear appeals from the Magistrate’s court is governed by the Magistrate’s Court Act and not the Civil Procedure Rules.

As such, the time for filing the notice of appeal was seven days. Further, it held, the Magistrate’s Court Act requires notice to be given to the clerk, not the Magistrate, and this was not done.

The court rejected the letter of 1st October 2014 by the attorney since it was addressed to the Magistrate and not the clerk. The appeal was dismissed.

In its judgment, the CCJ made reference to its ruling in the Deane v Allamby  pointing out that in that case it did not even consider whether the Civil Procedure Rules had any relevance to appeals from a Magistrate’s court since the appellant in that case had not filed a notice of appeal under the Rules.

In this case, the CCJ determined that the appellant had in fact given “immediate, public notice of its intention to appeal” which was subsequently followed by a notice in writing, and both were within the time period prescribed by the Magistrate’s Court Act.

The CCJ ruled that in all the circumstances, notice was given as a matter of substance and it should not matter that neither counsel nor the clerk regarded those notices as compliant with the requirements of the Magistrate’s Court Act.

Therefore, the CCJ concluded, the appellant had complied with the notice requirements under the Magistrate’s Court Act.

The Court opined that the regime for appealing under the Magistrate’s Court Act requires legislative intervention to harmonize it with the procedure under the Civil Procedure Rules, the latter being acknowledged as more convenient for appellants.

The CCJ allowed the appeal and ordered that the appeal to the Court of Appeal be restored and heard on an expedited basis.

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Chris Siinckler

CLICO policy holders receiving payment

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 7, CMC – Finance Minister Chris Sinckler said Wednesday that some policy holders of the financially troubled Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) have started receiving  receive payments on some of the instruments they had with the insurance company.

“We are elated that finally payments are being made, [so] we are coming good with our promise to make our policyholders whole again. It has been a long wait and much suffering,” Sinckler said as he toured Resolution Life Assurance Company Limited, which is now manging the bankrupt insurance company.

“We do apologise for the length of time that it has taken but some of those matters were beyond our immediate control, as CLICO International Life was under judicial management, supervised by the court and we had to follow those processes to the stage where we are at now,” he noted.

Chris Siinckler
Finance Minister Chris Sinckler (File Photo)

Sinckler said payments were being made from March 1.

Resolution Life chief executive officer, Cheryl Senhouse, said that on average, the payment to the annuitants was about BDS$400,000 (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) per month and payments were made for January and February of 2018.

“Thereafter, we will be ensuring that current payments to those policyholders remain on track and that the backlog of amounts that is owed to those persons is settled within the six-month timeframe that we originally would have outlined,” she said.

Sicnkler stated that he was happy that Resolution Life, which deals with the portfolio instruments under CLICO; and New Life, which is an asset management company, had been established and were under excellent management.

He said the Freundel Stuart government had played a critical role in ensuring that the companies had gotten to this stage and opined that it should be congratulated for stepping in and filling the breach.

He noted that not many countries in the world would have attempted this type of exercise.

“In fact, when companies fail internationally, in many of the countries that we admire, … the depositors or policyholders usually don’t get bailed out, they usually have to take the bad end of the stick. Barbados has a slightly different tradition.

“We feel that Barbadians who…are encouraged to invest and save, should be given every opportunity to benefit from those investments and savings, and where any failures occur, even though they may not be caused by Government, Government still has a fiduciary responsibility to its citizens to ensure that some value which could potentially be lost is retained,” he added.

Sinckler gave the assurance that the substantial changes government made to the regulatory system would greatly assist and expressed the view that going forward, a situation similar to what occurred with CLICO would not be repeated.

The Finance Minister also disclosed that the second phase of the restructuring would include the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

In November last year, the Grenada government expressed its “profound disappointment” at the failure to date to get compensation for CLICO and BAICO policy holders.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, said then that Caribbean governments continue to view the situation regarding the collapse of the two insurance companies “as a regional problem, which requires a regional solution”.

Mitchell said that his administration is also committed to bilaterally following up with the Trinidad and Tobago government “on its previous commitment to provide US$100 million dollars for BAICO Policyholders in the ECCU (Eastern Caribbean Currency Union)”.

Last year, the Trinidad and Tobago government defended its decision to seek a court-appointed liquidator to deal with the assets of CL Financial company, the parent company of CLICO,  saying it was seeking to ensure that taxpayers were not on the losing end of a TT$15 billion (US$2.23 billion) interest-free loan.

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