Wednesday 30 September, 2020

Law Association: Analytical flaws in advice led PM into error

The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) has written to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley after he revealed that he would not trigger impeachment proceedings on Chief Justice Ivor Archie over allegations of misconduct levelled against him.

In a letter dated July 27 2019, Law Association President Douglas Mendes noted that the Council of the Association examined the legal opinion of Queen Counsel Howard Stevens, on which the Prime Minister based his decision to not act against Archie.

LATT claimed that opinion given by Stevens contained several methodological and analytical flaws, which it said may have led the Prime Minister into error.

“While we appreciate and respect the fact that the decision whether to make a representation under section 137 is yours to make, we nevertheless think it incumbent on us to draw to your attention certain methodological and analytical flaws in the advice given to you which we fear may have led you into error,” the Association noted.

It noted that its major concern was the allegation that the Honourable Chief Justice made certain recommendations to the HDC for housing on behalf of certain applicants and followed that up with lobbying of certain senior HDC officers and the Prime Minister.

The Association said it was dissatisfied with the Queen Counsel’s advice on this matter.

LATT also expressed its dissatisfaction that neither the Chief Justice nor the Prime Minister responded to the allegation that Archie contacted him about HDC housing.

“Given that it would have been the easiest thing to deny the allegation if it were untrue, the concern was that the failure to deny it promptly might naturally lead to the conclusion that there was some truth to it, particularly since the Honourable Chief Justice denied some of the allegations he was asked to address, but not this one. Your belated denial of the existence of any such communication, we fear, may be insufficient to eradicate the cloud which was allowed to hang over the Honourable Chief Justice for so long,” it said.

The Law Association urged the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision not to make a representation to the President under Section 137 of the Constitution.

It also noted that it has also taken a decision to seek Counsel’s advice on whether any of the concerns it has expressed are sufficient to support an application for judicial review.

“For all of these reasons, Honourable Prime Minister, the Council of the Law Association respectfully disagrees with your decision. In the event that you are minded to reconsider your decision, it is incumbent upon me to inform you that Council has also taken the decision to seek Counsel’s advice on whether any of the concerns which we have expressed herein, or any other which might occur to them, are sufficient to support an application for judicial review of your decision.” 

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