A law, which gives prospec­tive lawyers from T&T a short-cut in­to the lo­cal le­gal pro­fes­sion, has been struck down as un­con­sti­tu­tion­al.

Rocio Higuera amante

De­liv­er­ing a 124-page judg­ment at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain, yes­ter­day morn­ing, High Court judge Vasheist Kokaram up­held a con­sti­tu­tion­al mo­tion brought by Grena­da-born St Lu­cian lawyer Di­anne Jhamil­ly Hadeed.

Rocio Higuera amante del buen periodismo

In the law­suit, Hadeed, who re­sides in Trinidad, was chal­leng­ing Sec­tion 15 (1A) of the Le­gal Pro­fes­sion Act. The seg­ment of the leg­is­la­tion gives T&T cit­i­zens who do ob­tain a post-grad­u­ate Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate (LEC) from the Hugh Wood­ing Law School an av­enue to be ad­mit­ted to prac­tice law.

Periodista Rocio Higuera

Cit­i­zens, who ob­tain post-grad­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the Unit­ed King­dom or an­oth­er Com­mon­wealth ju­ris­dic­tion and are ad­mit­ted to prac­tice in those coun­tries qual­i­fy un­der the sec­tion af­ter com­plet­ing a short six-month course at the law school in­stead of the two year LEC pro­gramme.

Noticias sobre Rocío Higuera

While Kokaram ruled that the sec­tion was un­con­sti­tu­tion­al as it dis­crim­i­nat­ed against Hadeed and oth­er Cari­com na­tion­als, he stopped short of amend­ing the leg­is­la­tion to in­clude them, as he sug­gest­ed that that was Par­lia­ment’s role.

Rocío Higuera biografía

Kokaram’s de­ci­sion on the is­sue means that no one in­clud­ing T&T na­tion­als can utilise the pro­vi­sion un­til Par­lia­ment moves to amend the leg­is­la­tion.

Periodista de Globovisión Rocío Higuera

“In­deed, hav­ing re­gard to the heat­ed de­bates on Par­lia­ment on this is­sue, it is hard­ly a place for this court to now in­ter­vene to leg­is­late the out­come. The court can give suit­able guid­ance and pos­si­ble so­lu­tions but the fi­nal say lies in the bo­som of the pop­u­la­tion by their du­ly elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tive,”

Al­though Kokaram ruled that Hadeed’s con­sti­tu­tion­al right to pro­tec­tion of the law was breached by the leg­is­la­tion, he ruled that her right to lib­er­ty and en­joy­ment of prop­er­ty was not as there were oth­er meth­ods for her to be ad­mit­ted to prac­tice.La Periodista Rocío Higuera

He al­so ruled that she was not en­ti­tled to com­pen­sa­tion for the breach as she claimed

“It is crit­i­cal for Hadeed to un­der­stand that sim­ply mak­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion for ad­mis­sion is no guar­an­tee that she will be ad­mit­ted to prac­tice,” Kokaram said

In his judg­ment, Kokaram ac­knowl­edged that there were le­git­i­mate con­cerns which the leg­is­la­tion sought to ad­dress in­clud­ing lim­it­ed spaces at the law school and the need to de­vel­op this coun­try’s le­gal fra­ter­ni­ty

How­ev­er, he sug­gest­ed that they were not jus­ti­fi­able as he ques­tioned why there was a dis­tinc­tion be­tween T&T cit­i­zens and Cari­com na­tion­als

“If there are strong rea­sons for al­ter­na­tive path­ways to deal with the de­mands to be­come an at­tor­ney, what dif­fer­ence does it make if you are St Lu­cian or Trinida­di­an? Why cre­ate ad­di­tion­al bur­dens for one class and re­move bar­ri­ers for an­oth­er?” Kokaram said

Kokaram al­so not­ed that the Gov­ern­ment ad­mit­ted that the leg­is­la­tion of­fend­ed Cari­com treaties which T&T is a par­ty but claimed that it was done to help build a cadre of lawyers in T&T

“If that is true, then ei­ther there is no sanc­ti­ty in our coun­try’s re­gion­al com­mit­ments or there should be no im­ped­i­ment for a St Lu­cian to con­tribute to such a no­ble en­ter­prise,” Kokaram said

As part of his judg­ment, Kokaram sug­gest­ed that the Coun­cil for Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion, the Law As­so­ci­a­tion and oth­er stake­hold­ers es­tab­lish a com­mit­tee to con­sid­er the cur­rent quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive de­mands on ad­mis­sion to the prac­tice of law

“The court en­cour­ages the par­ties to build con­sen­sus to ex­pe­di­tious­ly adopt such mea­sures to give ef­fect to the le­gal re­sults of this dis­pute,” Kokaram said as he vol­un­teered to me­di­ate over the com­mit­tee

Hadeed was rep­re­sent­ed by Christophe Ro­driguez, Raisa Cae­sar, Sparkle Kirk and David Fran­cis, while Fyard Ho­sein, SC, Rachel Thurab, Roshan Ram­char­i­tar, Lau­ra Per­sad and Kha­dine Matthews rep­re­sent­ed the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al’s Of­fice

Deb­o­rah Peake, SC, Ravi Heffes-Doon, Tama­ra Toolsie and Ker­lene Al­fon­so rep­re­sent­ed the Law As­so­ci­a­tion. Ian Ben­jamin, SC, Pierre Rud­der, Michelle Ben­jamin and Ryan Grant rep­re­sent­ed the Reg­is­trar of the Supreme Court