Sam Maharaj (Appellant) v. Prime Minister (Respondent) (Trinidad and Tobago) [2016] UKPC 37

Sam Maharaj (Appellant) v. Prime Minister (Respondent) (Trinidad and Tobago) [2016] UKPC 37

Mr Maharaj appealed to the Privy Council the earlier decision by the Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago that refused to award him damages in a judicial review claim against the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago. That claim was made because the Cabinet had decided that Mr Maharaj should not be reappointed as a member of the Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago.

The decision not to reappoint Mr Maharaj was made following the advice of a former member of the Industrial Court who alleged that Mr Maharaj lacked the necessary skills for reappointment. The Cabinet made no attempt to verify the allegations nor sought any response from Mr Maharaj, who only learnt of the allegations during the course of the proceedings. Before the Privy Council, Mr Maharaj argued that the Cabinet’s failure to verify the allegations advanced against his fitness for reappointment constituted a breach of section 4(b) of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, which declares the protection of the law as a human right.

The Privy Council found that section 4(b) of the Constitution had been breached as the Cabinet did not verify, or provide Mr Maharaj the opportunity to respond to, the allegations made against his reappointment. While judicial review was available to Mr Maharaj, the proceedings in Trinidad and Tobago took around eleven years to complete which the Privy Council moreover held did not amount to effective protection of the law. The Privy Council remitted the appeal to the High Court to give directions as to the issue of compensation.

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