Another police officer is charged

Law enforcement officers have arrested and charged another of their very own for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving.

PC Joseph Felix – faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment if convicted of the offence

Police Constable (PC) Joseph Felix, who is attached to the Fire Department at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA), has been arrested and charged for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving in connection to the March 1 death of Joseph La Touche of Williamson Road, St. George’s.

The charge stems from a vehicular accident that occurred on January 19, which landed the now deceased in the hospital and becoming paralysed.

PC Felix was charged approximately 10 months after Police Constable (PC) Denson Charles was arrested and charged for causing the death of well known businessman Trevor Renwick by dangerous driving in May 2018.

Another Police Constable, Randy Alexander was also slapped with the same offence following the April 13, 2018 death of Betty-Ann Lambert better known as ‘String Beans,’ who was dragged to her death underneath a bus driven by PC Alexander.

Joseph La Touche – succumbed to his injuries
following a vehicular accident on January 19

La Touche succumbed to injuries sustained as a result of the January 19 incident which led to the charge being laid against PC Felix.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the vehicle driven by Felix collided with another vehicle in which La Touche was a passenger.

La Touche was said to be on his way home from doing night duty with a popular nightclub in the south of the island.

According to a police statement, Felix was granted bail in the sum of EC$15, 000 with two (2) sureties and will make his first court appearance at the St. George’s Magistrate’s Court on April 30.

In keeping with the Police Act, PC Felix would most likely be suspended with half pay pending the outcome of the court matter.

The three (3) officers face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment if convicted of the offences.

GOVERNMENT TESTS CITIZENS RESOLVE TO OBEY THE LAW

Citizens obey the law for three major reasons: to avoid legal consequences, out of respect for authority and because it is the morally right thing to do. However, when systems fail, persons sometimes attempt to administer the law with disastrous consequences.

Recently in Aurora, Illinois, USA an employee who was being or had just been fired from his job resorted to gunning down some of his fellow employees. When the situation cleared up a bit six people including the fired employee were dead and several other persons including some police officers injured.

Fortunately, Grenadians do not generally resort to such extremes to resolve disputes, being as is sometimes felt a docile and compliant people waiting on the Lord to settle most of our troubles. But does this give our Government the mandate to abuse its citizens to the point that some may go overboard and break the law. The government is mandated to govern the country and the citizens are expected to be law-abiding.

Whilst the citizenry is generally held to account for breaking the law, our Government is generally not held accountable for its actions. Is it that our docile and compliant nature is giving them reason to try and circumvent the very laws they have put in place?

We have seen our Government on many occasions resort to unconstitutional actions against the citizens especially against public officers in the areas of appointments, transfers, termination of appointment and withholding of salaries.

Society has failed to and, in some instances, have sided with Government in the breaking of the law. Our Government is now emboldened and has taken its disregard for the constitution, laws and the citizens to the highest level.

As an example, the laws pertaining to severance and compensation to public officers are straight forward and must be adhered to by the Government. Severance/Compensation payments by law is a one-time payment in its totality. It is a liability which the Government has incurred and should be paid off in the fiscal year in which it incurred failing which the Government is in fact borrowing from the person to whom the payoff is due.

So why is the Government after removing the former Secretary to Cabinet from its payroll in August 2018 in a manner not in keeping with the Public Finance Management Act is now seeking to have her returned to its payroll to be paid a miserly quarterly sum until she attains the compulsory retirement age?

The Court of Appeal judgment of September 22, 2017 indicated that the Lady was unconstitutionally removed from the public service. Since section 84(8) of the Constitution did not apply she could not have been retired and just paid her retirement benefits as was done with previous public officers. The judgment meant that she had to be paid all her emoluments and entitlements up to the age of compulsory retirement to be followed by her retirement benefits.

It is my understanding, which the Government can confirm or deny, that having removed the former senior officer from its payroll since August of 2018, without considering where would be her source of income to meet financial obligations, it is now through the Ministry of Finance proposing to pay the compensation package in quarterly instalments commencing March 2019 and until her sixtieth birthday.

From my assessment of the developments, the authority for the payments to the former Secretary to Cabinet is a letter from the Chief Personnel Officer dated November 7, 2018. At the time that letter was delivered to the former senior public officer it should have been accompanied with the payment of her terminal benefits and followed immediately by her removal from the Government payroll. This would have completely severed her from the public service and would have been consistent with the Court of Appeal ruling.

Government’s proposal is now seeking to return the former senior officer to the public service on its payroll after she was unconstitutionally removed from it some seven months ago. Has the Government, as the constitutional authority for seeking the welfare of all the citizens, given thought to how the now unemployed former public officer has been meeting her financial commitment for the past seven months? And to make bad matters worst has made such an unbecoming proposal to the senior public officer.

It is true that the IMF has dictated to the Government to pay its outstanding judgment debts? Compensation is to be paid in a lump sum, however, instalments can be agreed upon between the parties.

Discussions on an instalment plan should consider the needs of the recipient and must include penalty interest on the remaining balance. Such instalments should be paid within a reasonable time and, from my assessment, it is obvious that this proposal from Government cannot constitute reasonable timing.

Government should not continue to take advantage of its citizens. There will be a time of reckoning for all the actors and supporters of this kind of reckless behaviour to our citizens. Lawbreakers would ultimately be caught up with and made to account but in the meantime how many more lives will be destroyed?

Concerned Public Servant

That Privy Council Ruling!!!

Monday’s decision by the Privy Council in London to dismiss the appeal by former soldier, Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart Layne to be admitted to practice law in Grenada is a massive defeat for the so-called ultra-leftist forces in the country who are known as Coardites.

This name is given to all those Grenada Revolutionaries who were associated with former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, the suspected mastermind of the bloody palace coup within the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution in which Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, three Cabinet colleagues and several others were executed at Fort George on October 19, 1983.

Layne has been facing an uphill battle in his attempt to be admitted as a member of the Grenada Bar in the wake of his convictions for mass murder due to his role in the bloodbath at the fort.

The former top army commander has continued to plead his innocence of the murder charges laid against him in what he has often dubbed as a “Kangaroo Trial” that was conducted by a court that was created by the same 1979-83 revolutionary government that he helped to create following the coup d’etat against the elected Eric Gairy government on March 13, 1979.

It is ironic that the Privy Council delivered its stinging judgement against Layne and his ambition to become a lawyer a day or two after the Coardites ended a week of celebrations for the March 13 coup against the Gairy regime.

THE NEW TODAY sees the effect of the ruling of the Privy Council as shutting the door firmly in Layne’s face and his ambition to walk the corridors of the high court as a member of the Grenada Bar.

However, this newspaper is more concerned about what appears to be the attempt by governmental authorities on the island to play games with the Layne issue in an effort to facilitate his efforts to become a lawyer.

The records will show that the current government did not participate or make any appearance before the high court when Layne applied to be admitted to practice as a lawyer when Cajeton Hood was serving as Attorney-General.

This matter first came up for hearing before the then sitting judge, Justice Margaret Price-Findlay and the judge thought it prudent and important to appoint John Carrington ,QC as a friend of the court (amicus curiae) in the face of the State not putting in an appearance.

THE NEW TODAY is unaware of what advice was given by AG Hood to the Cabinet of Ministers including Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell on Layne’s application issue before the high court.

When Layne lost before the high court, he quite rightly decided to challenge the decision before the Court of Appeal.

There were clear signs and signals that the Mitchell-led government was pussy-footing on making an appearance before the Court of Appeal to fight against the revolutionary soldier.

It is our information that the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod got involved almost on the 99th hour and instructed then Solicitor General Dwight Horsford and not AG Hood for whatever reason to fight the Layne matter on behalf of the government and people of Grenada.

This newspaper recalls that Mr. Horsford did appear and put forward submissions in the case and the Court of Appeal rejected Layne once again.

The Mitchell government again gave a different signal when Layne decided to take the matter to the Privy Council as new Attorney-General, Dr. Lawrence Joseph wrote a letter which came before the Law Lords signaling that the Grenada Government will not be

pursuing the Layne matter before the court in London.

Why did Dr. Joseph adopt such a position on the Layne matter? It is doubtful that AG Joseph unilaterally took that decision and did not consult the government on the issue of not putting forward an appearance before the Law Lords of the Privy Council.

There has been no explanation months later from the current rulers to the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique on the pussy-footing by government on such a matter of great importance – a situation that could have far-reaching implications for any country in which an individual with 11 convictions for killing people including a Prime Minister was seeking admittance to become a lawyer.

This newspaper holds the strong view that if Layne’s appeal at the Privy Council was allowed then all public confidence in the institutional integrity of the state and the administration of justice in the legal system would have collapsed beyond resurrection.

The impression from the Mitchell government on the Layne matter is that it simple did not care about the reputation and integrity of the legal profession in Grenada.

Does it have anything to do with the influx of those Coardite elements within the ruling New National Party (NNP) government under the banner of the so-called Project Grenada?

What is also rather interesting is the role of former AG Hood in the entire Ewart Layne affair.

Mr. Hood was paid for several years by the taxpayers of the country to serve government as Attorney General and principal legal advisor and he did not appear against Layne in the matter either at the level of the high court or the court of appeal.

However, attorney Hood showed up for the Layne hearing in London before the Privy Council in October to give pro bono service to the former revolutionary soldier who was seeking to get the Law Lords to dismiss the ruling against him.

This newspaper holds the view that Mr. Hood would have to explain to the Grenadian people what seems to be a rather strange behaviour on his part in the entire Layne matter.

It is well known that Mr. Layne was once attached to his private chambers as part of his so far unsuccessful sojourn to get admitted to practice law in the country.

The unsuspecting people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique are certainly not aware of the big and nasty games that are being played in very high circles in the country all in the name of power.

 

Finally, Grenada to fund LIAT!!!

At long last the Government of Grenada has decided to inject much needed funds in regional carrier LIAT.

Grenadians will recall the obstinate attitude of Prime Minister Mitchell in relation to the subject matter. His infantile tantrums about LIAT and its management often left regional leaders scratching their heads about an attitude that defies reason.

He even set preconditions that must be met before Grenadian taxpayers money can be invested in the regional airline. He ranted and raved about flight itinerary, operational costs, managerial incompetence to name a few.

At the same time he committed the country’s funds to pay subvention to foreign airlines and refused to do so with a regional carrier which provide airlift to the island for more than fifty years uninterrupted.

Such is the character of the man who believes that the world revolves around his whim and fancies.

His argument that the airline needed private sector style management was diminished by the fact that Carib Express and Caribbean Star came and went. They were both private sector managed operations. However LIAT stood the test of time.

The present Chief Executive Officer of the airline, who is a long standing senior employee, must be quietly amused by the about face decision of Dr. Mitchell. So what has changed Mr. Prime Minister? The constant changes of senior operating officers continues, uneconomic routes still exists on their schedule and the carrier remains cash strapped.

Local taxes does not assist the cause of lower fares and the cost of inter-regional travel continues to be prohibitive.

Moreover, many Grenadians are wondering whether there is fiscal space available to write multi-million dollar cheques to the regional carrier. To date the government has refused to tell the nation how much money will be plowed into LIAT.

This whole episode demonstrates what we have to contend with in these islands where elected leaders become increasingly more capricious and egotistic in their discharge of their public duty. Such duty is being treated as if our islands have become their private estate and personal property where the greater good is treated with scant respect.

The aspirations of our Caribbean people for regional unity and cooperation stand predominate. Nothing more, nothing less.

Standby Man

Environmental Issues – how concerned are you?

As a people do we really care about our environment and our surroundings?

Are you a concerned citizen, and are you aware of what’s happening around you on a daily basis, are you happy with the level of pollutants around you?

Are you contributing towards the further degradation of your environment?

Do we really care about biodiversity and how pollutants are impacting our environment negatively?

Grenada is branded as being “PURE GRENADA” but does this truly reflect our country as being pure? If you were to ask me, I would be frank and honest and say, “I BEG TO DIFFER”.

We have recently heard about environmental wardens and I’m wondering if it’s not another name for the seasonal Debushers, who are continuously destroying our natural environment by indiscriminately cutting shrubs and trees that are protecting the embankments along the roadside.

In my opinion Government hasn’t done enough in protecting the environment because of constant neglect and abuse. I know the government has taken important steps in phasing out toxic plastics and styrofoam, and is to be applauded for that: but there is much more that needs to be done. Re: Proper disposal of tyres/engine oil?

Regarding tyres – there’s a small holding area at Perseverance Landfill but stock piling will only have more harmful effects on the environment for example it will create a breeding ground for mosquitoes and rodent infestation “if something isn’t done urgently then we would have a serious problem on our hands”.

I have witnessed this ugliness along with many other citizens of the indiscriminate dumping of large quantities of motor oil from a fishing vessel that was docked at the Carenage waterfront in St. George’s a few months ago. I raised those concerns on electronic social media.

HAVE THOSE IN AUTHORITY DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT? As far as I know this still continues to happen on a daily basis.

Over the decades we have seen how slowly they’re destroying our natural environment as extensive deforestation has been taking place making way for concrete jungles all in the name of economic development.

It bleeds my heart when I have to think about the natural Dove habitat that was destroyed at Mt. Hartman for a failed tourism project. I’m afraid the other Dove sanctuary at Perseverance is facing a similar fate, with only a notice indicating protected area.

The fencing is partially up. Has anyone considered BIRDWATCHING as an option for Grenada. Birdwatching could so easily become part of our tourism product – there could be a Caribbean birding trail as these are opportunities that we need to capitalise on in terms of eco-tourism.

As a concerned citizen of this beautiful nation of ours I’m overly concerned about the uglification of Grand Anse with more tourism projects from wealthy investors. Government has failed to adhere to reports that were done which made claims that no more hotels should be constructed along Grand Anse beach.

Yet we have seen the emergence of the Silversands Hotel Development project, Kimpton Kawana Bay Hotel Project and soon to be coming on stream is the Rivera Hotel.

The callousness continues to reflect the behaviour of government because for instance the Anti-Litter Abatement Act is just sitting in some Ministry collecting dust in a filing cabinet.

Despite the ban on styrofoam importation in the country with the Non-Biodegradable Waste Control Act, “I’m not going to jump for joy because this isn’t even a ripple on the surface.”

Many NGOs and interest groups have been trying their utmost best in helping to raise the education awareness and private citizens alike have been lobbying for changes in practices on how we mistreat our environment by destroying it with pollutants.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not against development but rather for the protection of our fragile environment and will not support the destruction of it. I believe in saving it for the future generations of those who will come after us.

I have noticed a number of pollutants along the banks of the St John River and I’m sure the ecosystem there is affected badly. I’m of the view that this is one of the most polluted rivers on the island because there’s an invasion of strange looking algae growing in that river higher up stream. I believe this is due because of all the industrial waste that’s emptied into that river by the many businesses that operating alongside, beginning at Tempe.

There’s a garage located at the entrance to River Road on the left-hand side of the river bank, and I’m pretty sure all the motor oil used from the engines of those vehicles are dumped into the river.

This harmful practice can be detrimental and it can have negative impact on the environment and marine life.

A little further up that same street there’s a waste disposal company located on the other side of the river and they too are dumping filth and all the run-off water from garbage and septic trucks are washed off into the river. There is conclusive evidence because of the run-off which is visible from the main road.

More emphasis is needed to be placed on Biodiversity: ensuring people know what it is, where it is, and why is it important? “These are the things we must focus our attention on and it’s not just for those that care about the environment but rather it concerns all.”

I often have to ask the question – where are the environmentalists here in Grenada who should be passionate about the environment? Are they just sitting in an office collecting a salary at end of each month?

Government is always signing agreements with ratifications regarding the environment at (COP) Conference of Parties and yet the environment is not being protected. I can recall on 22nd June 2002 when a number of Government officials from around the region signed the (Cotonou Agreement ACP-EU Partnership Agreement) including Grenada. They vowed to protect the environment and the question is – have they followed through on those agreements?

Let’s pause for a moment and just think about all what happened in past and still continues to happen today with respect to the level of environmental degradation that’s taking place in our country.

We have been hearing lately about making St. George’s City Climate Smart and Climate Resilient but where’s the protection of our environment taking place?

My question has always been why are Government officials hiding behind facades in other to collect millions of dollars in grants and loans in the name of our mistreated environment?

The Green Climate Fund was used in the 2018 General Elections as a gimmick in capturing votes because the electorates were told we have millions of dollars and figures were quoted and that was from the aforementioned fund.

Let’s take a look at the indiscriminate dumping area for raw sewage located close to the entrance of Green Bridge in the city. The area there is literally polluted with raw sewage and toiletries, and is often left there for days stagnating.

The air within that vicinity always carries that offensive odor of raw sewage and it’s sickening and unbreathable. Students and pedestrians are usually seen passing in that area going to the various schools that are located in the Queen’s Park area. That’s an environmental hazard. Are those in authority waiting for a pandemic or epidemic to break out before those issues are addressed?

Another issue is the Perseverance Landfill area. I’m now wondering why there is a third dumping site? Why are we polluting such fertile grounds with rubbish and garbage? I think it’s time government invests in proper landfill facilities where recycling of plastics and other products can take place instead of moving from one site to the other. Again, I’ve been present in discussions with government and with Solid Waste – they really do recognise the problem, but do not have the funds. It’s not that easy. Let me invite you to the next Sustainable Development Council Meeting – when I find out when it is.

All of this goes to show we don’t have good people working in the ministry responsible for waste. If we’re passionate enough about our environment things would be much more and better organised. I think it’s time for total privatisation of waste collection services here in Grenada because I’m tired of sub-contractors and contractors.

In privatisation, some or all of the management, ownership, and tasks for a government operation are shifted to the private sector. One of the most common forms of privatisation is the selection of a private entity to deliver a service, it is sad to say we don’t have Local Government, just public employees.

Essentially, a Local Government is responsible for outsourcing the necessary services. Recycling and garbage collection and disposal are increasingly becoming one of these services that need restructuring and I want see privatisation. Collection of garbage is already privatised. It is disposal that is not privatised.

Money – to set up recycling facilities – is a major problem. Solid Waste people know exactly what they ought to be doing, but nobody – including government – has the funds. There is no economy of scale here – ironically, little Grenada does not generate enough garbage to generate electricity etc, with it. I have already discussed this with tourists from several countries in the garbage business.

The ideal solution would be for one Caribbean island to take in the garbage from the others – but freight costs would be prohibitive. Another problem is that we have no land use policy (separation of residential from industrial, recreational etc.)

The harbour located close to the Perseverance Landfill has now become a dumping ground for derelict boats and abandoned fishing vessels. Can that be right? A boating graveyard. I hope those in authority do something about it immediately.

Lastly, I have one more concern in the area in question, because there is a small river or stream and when it rains heavily, the water gathers at the foot of the first landfill site and oils are usually dumped to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. But it’s a very dangerous practice, I’m sure the run-off water makes its way into the harbour and marine life will also be affected.
I’m calling on the necessary authority to do something to save our environment — please!

EACH OF US HAS A VITAL ROLE TO PLAY IN ENSURING THAT OUR ENVIRONMENT IS PROTECTED FROM POLLUTANTS.

Brian J.M. Joseph

Chinese Embassy donates computers to Telescope

After donating up to 70 computers to schools across the island, the Chinese Embassy has once again showed its generosity by assisting the residents of Telescope in St. Andrew with 10 computers to be used at its Community centre.

Counsellor Yang Shijun hands over computer to MP Pierre

Parliamentary Representative for the Constituency of St. Andrew South East, Emmalin Pierre accepted the computers on behalf of the community during a recent ceremony at the Chinese Embassy.

Presenting the computers on behalf of the embassy was Counsellor Yang Shijun, who was acting as Charge d’ affaires, in the absence of Ambassador Yhao Yongchen.

He recalled that on January 14 there was a ceremony at the Anglican High School (AHS) in Tanteen, St. George’s where China donated 70 computers to eight schools on the island.

He said this donation by the Chinese should be seen as “a good contribution to the education system of this country in which we are very proud of and the embassy is committed to continue our efforts to make Grenada better in terms of education”.

The Chinese diplomat stressed that Beijing is able to reach out and offer assistance to other countries despite its own level of poverty at home.

Shijun noted that 2018 was the 14th anniversary of China’s most recent modern reform and opening up and the country was able to make progress is terms of modern technology.

He said: “… We still have some people living under the poverty line and the Chinese Government is also making efforts to do the poverty relief – we also face some questions of development. Even with this, we are also willing to provide our assistance to the government and people of Grenada because we all belong to developing countries. So, as we are making out to make the Chinese people living better, we are also willing within our capacity to render our assistance.

“So, that’s why today we are ready to provide another 10 computers to the Telescope Community and to strengthen the capability of the Community centre, so that the people in that community can receive higher education and can get more connected with modern information technology.”

MP Pierre expressed appreciation on behalf of her constituents to the Chinese embassy for its assistance to the rural community.

She said that the computers will be used to start a training programme at the centre.

The female government minister also told the Chinese envoy: “As you said, mindful of your own challenges at home, you continue to be such a friend in a tangible way to us here in Grenada and not only through the donation of computers but your support as it relates to sport is an excellent example but not just sports (but) education.

“…On behalf of the people of Telescope , I want to express appreciation. That facility was also constructed by a Chinese Company and I have to say, I am also grateful for the manner in which they would have conducted the work that was done”.

Four Law Lords against and only one for Lieutenant-Colonel Layne

The British-based Privy Council on Monday delivered a 4-1 decision against former Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart “Headache” Layne in his attempt to get admitted to practice law in the local courts.

The single judge who ruled in favour of Layne was LORD KERR who did not agree with the reasoning of the other four Law Lords that the trial judge was right in reaching the decision that the ex-soldier should not be admitted as a lawyer solely on the basis of his convictions for mass murders in October 1983.

The setback has brought an almost immediate reaction from Layne who signaled his intention to consider his options in the upcoming weeks.

In a brief statement issued, the ex-army chief said: “The Privy Council in a majority 4-1 decision (in which four separate opinions were delivered) has ruled against my appeal. As has been the case from the start of the struggle to be admitted, the sticking point was the convictions from the Kangaroo trial.

“The validity of those convictions was not an issue to be determined in the present case and the court proceeded on the assumption that they were valid. The outcome is disappointing but it’s not the end of the world; it’s far from the worst I have experienced; and it’s not the end of the struggle. Over the next few days and weeks I will make a decision as to the way forward. Thank you for your support and solidarity”.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces the opinion of the dissenting judge Lord Kerr who wanted the matter to be sent back to the local high court:

I regret that I cannot share the opinion of the majority of the Board as to the disposal of this appeal.

The proper approach to section 17(1) (a)

Section 17(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act 2011 requires (insofar as is relevant to this appeal) that an applicant for admission to practice at the Bar of Grenada be of good character in order to be eligible. A decision as to whether someone is of good character partakes of factual inquiry and the application of judgment. It does not involve the exercise of discretion.

If I am asked whether someone is of good character, I must examine what I know of the individual concerned and then decide whether, in my estimation, his character is good. That does not involve a consideration of various possible answers to the question and the selection of one of those possibilities, having weighed up the competing arguments in favour of or against each.
Such consideration is of the essence when a discretion is being exercised. But it is not what requires to be undertaken here. In the mind of the decider, a person is of good character or he is not. That is a matter of judgment.

The second thing to be said about section 17(1)(a) is that it requires the judgment as to whether an applicant is of good character to be made at the time of the application for admission to the Bar. Of course, the behaviour of an applicant in the past may be relevant to the contemporaneous assessment but only insofar as it relates to his or her current standing.

Reprehensible conduct in the past by a candidate for admission may provide an indicator as to her or his present character but it must not be allowed to operate as an automatic bar. In other words, simply because an individual has behaved badly in the past does not constitute an inevitable block on their admission to practice.

Previous past conduct is material only to the extent that it bears on the evaluation of character made at the time of consideration of the application. And, however bad or shameful the past behaviour, the decision-maker must not approach his or her assessment on the basis that its effect can never be outweighed by the subsequent redemptive conduct of the applicant.

Egregious behaviour in the past may present an applicant with a formidable hurdle; it should never be regarded as an automatically insuperable one.

In this case, Price Findlay J, in para 27 of her judgment said, “While rehabilitation is important, a show of rehabilitation in the face of past serious misconduct may be impossible to make.” It is not entirely clear what is meant by that statement, but, insofar as it was intended to convey that there were some cases where the offences were so grave that no measure of rehabilitation and reform could ever outweigh their effect, I would not agree with it.

The third and final observation to be made about section 17(1)(a) is that it is the Supreme Court which must make the judgment as to whether it is satisfied that the applicant is of good character.

This is not a judgment that can be subordinated to notions of how admission to the Bar of a particular individual might be viewed by sections of
society or even by the community at large.

It is the court which is charged with the solemn duty of deciding whether the candidate is of good character. That task is personal to the court. A belief that the admission of an applicant might be regarded askance by others is irrelevant, unless it affects the court’s own judgment as to whether the applicant is of good character.

I accept, of course, that what constitutes good character can vary according to the context in which the assessment is made. Someone aspiring to be a lawyer must be able to command the respect and confidence of the community which he or she serves. In other professions or occupations, this may not rank especially highly, particularly if the position applied for does not involve extensive contact with the public.

But the judgment as to whether an individual has the capacity to inspire the confidence and respect which a lawyer must have, is one which the decision-maker (in this instance the Supreme Court) must make for itself. If the court decides that, in its estimation, the applicant is possessed of those qualities, it may not deem the applicant ineligible because it considers that members of the public might think otherwise.

This is particularly important because the court should be possessed of all the material relevant to, for instance, the applicant’s rehabilitation, and the efforts which he has made to overcome and compensate for the circumstances in his past which have led to apprehension as to his moral competence and probity.

The court should also have full access to pertinent information about the applicant’s current standing. This material may not be available to members of the public; may not have been scrutinised with the critical eye with which the court examines it; and may not, in any event, be assessed with the cool, dispassionate authority that the court must bring to bear upon it.

While, therefore, the court must assess whether an applicant has the necessary qualities of uprightness, honesty, integrity and probity, it is the court’s own judgment on these matters which counts, not some speculation as to how those qualities might be judged by others.

It is important, therefore, that the court recognises (i) that this is a matter for its judgment, rather than the exercise of its discretion; and (ii) that the judgment should be made as an objective exercise, involving its own assessment of whether the qualities of moral character, integrity and probity are present, rather than speculating on how the public might approach the issue.

The possible impact on the confidence and respect that the public would have for someone such as the appellant is relevant, but the court is required to make its own judgment as to what that should be, rather than engage in conjecture or assumption as to what it might be.

It seems to me that this approach is entirely in accord with what Sir Thomas Bingham MR said in Bolton v Law Society [1994] 1 WLR 512, 518G-H:

“The second purpose is the most fundamental of all: to maintain the reputation of the solicitors’ profession as one in which every member, of whatever standing, may be trusted to the ends of the earth. To maintain this reputation and sustain public confidence in the integrity of the profession it is often necessary that those guilty of serious lapses are not only expelled but denied re-admission.”

As I read that extract, the Master of the Rolls clearly had in contemplation that the judgment as to what was required to maintain the reputation of the profession was to be made by the judge alone, drawing on what she or he considered was necessary to maintain the public’s confidence, not basing that judgment on what the judge hazarded the public might think.

A similar approach was taken by Sir Anthony Clarke MR in Jideofo v Law Society (No 6 of 2006; No 1 of 2007; No 11 of 2007) where, in response to the question posed in the first para of his judgment, “what is the appropriate test for determining an individual’s character and suitability for admission as a student member of the Law Society and then as a solicitor”, the Master of the Rolls supplied the following answer at paras 14 and 16:

“the question remains the same, namely whether the relevant evidence demonstrates that the person concerned is a fit person to be a solicitor … the character and suitability test is not concerned with ‘punishment’, ‘reward’ or ‘redemption’, but with whether there is a risk to the public or a risk that there may be damage to the reputation of the profession.”

Again, it appears to me that the Master of the Rolls clearly had in mind that this was a test to be applied by the judge, drawing on his own resources and experience.

In summary, therefore, a judge confronted by an application under section 17 must decide whether, at the time of making the application, the applicant is of good character. That assessment must be made by the judge alone. He or she may take into account the impact which past misbehaviour or criminal conduct on the part of the applicant might have on the reputation of the legal profession, but this is a matter for the judgment of the judge, without speculation as to how members of the public might react to the applicant’s admission.

The judge must not approach the question on the basis that there are some species of past behaviour which are so egregious as to eliminate the possibility of the applicant ever establishing that he is of good character.

On this account, I cannot agree with the judge’s view that the appellant’s position can be compared to a practising lawyer convicted of similar crimes of which the appellant was found guilty. The suggestion that the judge must be satisfied that the public would as opposed to should have confidence in the candidate’s suitability is misconceived.

A lawyer in practice convicted of serious crime rightly forfeits the confidence of the public. But a man convicted of serious crime while young and who has demonstrated beyond peradventure his repentance and rehabilitation stands in an entirely different place.

The point that the test for the judge should be whether the public should (as opposed to would) have confidence in the candidate’s suitability can be illustrated by a simple example. Suppose one of identical twins applies to be admitted to practice. There is a widespread belief among members of the public that he has been guilty of serious offences. In the course of the application process, it becomes unmistakably clear that it was his brother and not he who had committed the offences.

It could surely not be suggested that the innocent twin be refused admission on account of the public’s quite erroneous belief. Thus, the court must examine for itself, and on an objective basis, whether the applicant for admission is of good character. That examination should comprehend whether the candidate is possessed of the qualities necessary to command public respect but the decision on that question is one for the judge based on his or her assessment and not on any assumption as to what the public’s reaction might be.

If an applicant shows that he is of good character, is there a residual discretion as to whether he should be admitted?

It was argued that, even if an applicant shows that he is of good character, there is a discretion exercisable by the court as to whether he should be admitted to practice (as adopted by) the majority’s opinion. I do not accept that.

Much of the argument rests on the significance placed on the statement in para 17(1) that a person who is of good character and has met the educational requirements and completed all the formal steps under section 17(1)(b) to (d) is “eligible” to be admitted by the court to the practice of law.

It is suggested that, if it had been intended that a person who had fulfilled all the requirements of section 17(1) would be entitled to be admitted, it could have been simply stated that he shall be admitted, rather than that he was eligible to be admitted. This appears to me to place unwarranted weight on the term “eligible”.

In its conventional connotation, it means fit or deserving to be chosen. It does not mean fit or deserving to be considered to be chosen. In any event, I think that the use of the term would be an unusual means of investing the court with an open-ended discretion to refuse admission to someone who had met all the stipulated statutory requirements. If it had been intended that the Supreme Court should have such a wide power, that would surely have been made explicitly clear.

The provision succeeding section 17(1) reinforces the view that it was not intended that the court should have an overarching and undefined power to exclude applicants who had satisfied all the statutory criteria.

Section 17(2) provides:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of this Act or any other written law to the contrary, a national of Grenada who makes an

application to the court and satisfies the court that –

(a) he has the qualifications which would allow him to practise law in any country having a sufficiently analogous system of laws as Grenada; and

(b) he has obtained a certificate from the head of chambers of an attorney-at-law of not less than ten years standing, practising in Grenada to the effect that the national has undergone an attachment to those chambers for a continuous period of not less than six months relating to the practise of law; is deemed to hold the qualifications prescribed by law and is entitled, subject to fulfilling the conditions under subsection (1), to be admitted by the court to practise as an attorney-at-law in Grenada.”

A person applying for admission under section 17(2) is required to fulfil the conditions in section 17(1) and to meet the other technical requirements of subsection (2). If he does so, however, he is entitled to be admitted to the practice of law in Grenada. It would be, to say the least, anomalous that an applicant for admission who was not entitled to practise law outside Grenada was subject to a discretionary power of exclusion while one who had a qualification to practise law in a country having a system of laws analogous to Grenada was not. I consider, therefore, that provided an applicant satisfies the statutory requirements stipulated in section 17(1), he is entitled to be admitted to the practice of law in Grenada.

The judgment of the Supreme Court

At para 6 of her judgment, Price Findlay J held that section 17(1) “confers eligibility but not an entitlement to practice (sic) and the court retains discretion as to whether a person ought to be admitted to practice, notwithstanding that he/she has met the statutory requirements.” For the reasons given at paras 77-81 above, I consider that this conclusion was wrong in law.

It is not clear from the judgment whether, in light of this conclusion, the judge considered that it was unnecessary for her to reach a view as to whether the appellant was of good character at the time that he made his application. It may be that she felt that, since she was bound to exercise her discretion against him, it was not required of her to make a finding as to whether he was of good character. In any event, she made no such finding. In my opinion, she should have done.

Firstly, because she was wrong in law to consider that she had a discretion to refuse the appellant admission even where he satisfied all the requirements of section 17(1). Secondly, even if she had such a discretion, it was essential that the basis on which it was exercised should be made clear, so that the validity of its exercise could be examined.

The primary imperative in section 17(1) is for the Supreme Court to find whether an applicant has fulfilled the statutory requirements.

The discretion, if it existed, would come into play only if those requirements were met. Even if one assumes that a general discretion to exclude exists, it is necessary to understand whether, and on what basis, resort has been had to it.

The judge’s judgment is opaque on this. This is all the more surprising because the judge says, at para 10, that the “sole issue” was whether the appellant was of good character.

The judge observed that, if the appellant had been a practicing lawyer at the time of the commission of the offences, this would have led to his disbarment. I consider this to be, at most, of marginal relevance. The fact is that the appellant was not a practising lawyer.

And it is on his current status that the question of his good character falls to be judged.

Of course, if the appellant had been a practising lawyer at the time the offences were committed, by any reasonable standard, their commission would be judged to destroy the confidence and respect of the public in him, but it does not follow that the same reaction would now obtain, given that he has demonstrated, in the words of the Court of Appeal, evidence of rehabilitation which was “overwhelming” and that he has “lived a reformed life for the past thirty years and excelled academically.”

A practising lawyer disbarred for criminal conduct is in obvious contrast with someone seeking admission to practice for the first time after years of rehabilitation and reform following historic convictions.

A lawyer subject to disbarment as a result of recent criminal conduct is assessed on the basis of that recent conduct. That situation is self-evidently entirely different from someone who has committed offences while young and has led a blameless and wholly worthy life since, displaying conspicuous evidence of rehabilitation and reform.

There is a danger that, in making the observation that if he had been a practising lawyer the appellant would have been disbarred, the judge has been led to make the very assumption which, for the reasons I have given, she had to eschew. That assumption is, that because the appellant would have been disbarred if he had committed these offences as a practising lawyer, he is, ipso facto, ineligible for admission to practice.

I consider, therefore, that the Supreme Court’s judgment was wrong in at least two material respects. In the first place, it wrongly concluded that a general discretion was available to refuse the application of someone for admission to practice who had satisfied all the requirements of section 17(1).

Secondly, it failed to make a finding as to whether the appellant was of good character. It is also probable that the court fell into error in considering that the appellant was in the same position and fell to be dealt with in the same way as an attorney disbarred for involvement in recent offences akin to those committed some thirty years previously.

Finally, the court was wrong to suggest that some offences were so serious that there could never be any question of an applicant achieving the necessary level of rehabilitation and reform so as to overcome their effect. It is not clear, however, whether this was a factor which operated in the dismissal of the appellant’s application.

The Court of Appeal’s decision

At para 59 of its judgment, the Court of Appeal stated that although the appellant did not pose a risk to the public, “the judge was entitled to conclude that he had not demonstrated that he was of the required character to be admitted and that in any event to permit someone who had ten convictions of murder would have a negative impact on the reputation of the profession.”

This statement proceeds on the obvious premise that the judge had made a finding that the appellant had not demonstrated that he was of good character. For the reasons given earlier, this was, in my opinion, wrong. The judge had not made any such finding and the Court of Appeal’s assumption that she had compounds the error.

The Court of Appeal also considered that its role was as a reviewer of the exercise of discretion by the judge. The precise terms of the discretion which the Court of Appeal considered was available to the judge were not elucidated in its judgment. In any event, for the reasons that I have already given, the task which the judge had to perform was to apply her judgment to the various issues which arose, not to exercise a discretion. The Court of Appeal erred also on that account, in my opinion.

Disposal

I would have recommended that the appeal be allowed and that the matter be remitted to the Supreme Court of Grenada so that the appellant’s application be determined according to what I consider to be the correct legal principles.

Six Island Scholars named

The Grenada Government has announced the names of the six persons awarded island scholarships in 2019.

The students – Tamara Bubb, Toya Amendi, Syndey Walker, Trevon St. Bernard, Tara Thomas and Jarel Stuart – were awarded the scholarships as a result of their performances at the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).

According to Minister of Climate Resilience, Senator Simon Stiell, the students were selected by the National Award Selection Committee as top performers at TAMCC in the areas of both Associated Degrees and CAPE qualification.

Sen. Stiell told reporters Tuesday at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex that each scholarship is valued at $65,000 per year for every student.

He said that each student can expect to receive government support of up to $195,000 during the course of their studies.

“…I wish to congratulate each of those six students for their sterling efforts and the work and the results that they have been able to demonstrate and wish them all the best in their continued studies. It’s important to note that these six students, as with all scholarship awardees will be bonded,” he added.

Sen. Stiell indicated that government will be taking a much tougher line in going forward on the issue of bonds.

He said: “Grenada expends many tens of millions of dollars in the region of 40 to 50 million dollars per year of scholarships to our students and these resources, it’s actually taxpayers money – the government money, taxpayers money – that is contributing to these scholarships and it is important for the individual students to recognise the national sacrifice that is made to afford them the opportunities to continue their studies and the need for them to give back in terms of national service, in terms of serving their bond”.

The senior government minister also used the opportunity to announce that government is working with St. George’s University (SGU) to review the bond issue “to see how that can be further strengthened to ensure that there is solid enforcement of that bond”.

He singled out those persons who received scholarships that run into millions of dollars to become doctors and nurses and do not give back national health care service as part of the bond.

“…There would be special focus working with St. George’s University on those scholarship awardees in medicine who have not fulfilled the terms of their bond who are employed with St. George’s University”, he said.

“We will be working with SGU to identify those individuals and to ensure that service is provided – they can continue working in their employ at St. George’s University, but they need to carve out time to come back and work within our health care system throughout the course of their working week, their working month, to fulfill the terms of that bond”, he added.

In addition, Sen. Stiell announced that those graduates who would have served their bond “we’ll be asking for a voluntary programme where those medical students can offer their service on a voluntary basis, but speaking to their sense of national duty to provide some time again within our national health service”.

Over the years, successive governments have often been accused of paying lip-service to heath care on the island.

Blaka Dan Speaks out against SMC

First off, I would like to say that I am not here to disrespect or discredit nobody, I am not here to bring down nobody, I have no agenda of my own (and) this is not any strategy to market nothing (myself/music). This is an experience that needs addressing publicly…I think if I don’t speak I wouldn’t be setting a proper example for those (who are) to come behind me, I wouldn’t be an advocate for other artistes like me striving to be the best to help be one of the pillar stone in bringing Grenada music to the world.

Blaka Dan feels disrespected by the SMC

Those were the words spoken by Wrenroy ‘Blaka Dan’ Ogiste, who took to social media last week Tuesday to voice an experience and concern about what he considers unfair treatment meted out to him by Spicemas Corporation (SMC).

Speaking via facebook live dubbed “my experience,” the entertainer, who made his debut on the soca scene in 2012 with a song called “Three-dollar bread,” said he was contacted via Whatsapp by a female SMC representative on March 8, who offered him a gig to be a part of the April 27 launch of Spicemas 2019.

“I was asked would I be available to perform at the Grenada Spicemas launch…I responded to the message saying of course I would love to perform, however, I have a manager and I would put you on to my manager so (that) you can further discuss the booking. She said, they (SMC) would get back to me and I didn’t get any word until today (Tuesday, March 12), when I decided to contact the Spicemas representative for a follow up,” Blaka Dan said.

However, the SMC representative informed him that he did not make contact with his manager as yet but would keep trying.

“She told me that my manager will contact me,” however, when Blaka Dan contacted his manager, he learned that negotiations broke down when the representative requested that he perform for free at the upcoming SMC launch.

“My manager said during negotiations Spicemas said that all artistes will be performing for free on that night (but) my commonsense would tell me that even the people that putting on the event would have a salary to get, they not working for free…my common sense would tell me that whoever coming and set up the stage…are not coming and do it for free…the MC for the night would not come and hold that mic for free.

So, I asked myself why it is that the artistes, the person that coming to put down the show have to come and sing for free (while) everybody else get to work for money…when this is what we live by it’s how we make our money to survive.

Blaka Dan related that he then sent a message to the SMC representative letting her know that he “felt disrespected.”

The entertainer, who has performed at multiple charitable events in the past also pointed out that “she (the SMC) representative) didn’t even give an explanation as to whether or not it (Spicemas launch 2019) was a charitable event.”

Newly installed SMC CEO Kelvin Jacob was not available for a comment on the issue

“Mind you, I have performed for multiple charitable events…if a promoter come and ask me to perform for a charitable cause I would give my service, however, Spicemas launch is not a charitable event”, he added.

The soca entertainer indicated that when he contacted the newly installed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Spicemas Kelvin Jacob, he told him that all artistes were being asked to perform for free and that “he saw it as an opportunity for artistes to give back.”

However, Blaka Dan contended: “Why is it (that) only the artistes are being asked to give back…who (are) the artistes actually giving back to…why is it (that) the CEO and everybody else not working for free (but) you say to the artistes, (the ones that) people coming to look at, that they have to come and sing for free”.

“…How we songs does write, how do our producers and videographers get paid, how do I reach to your event, what do I wear, what do I eat…”, said Blaka Dan who is seeking answers to the questions.

He went on: “This (Spicemas) launch is not a charitable event…there is a bar there, where does this money go to, who does this money go to…Mr. CEO, I would say to you with the utmost respect, you have no right to tell me when I ought to give back. I would say to you to prove to me that everybody on your staff does not get pay on the night of the Spicemas launch; provide that proof to me and I would work on that stage and sing for my fans, sing for my people with grace and perform…I would spend my hard earn money, I would buy my own clothes, pay my own bus, buy my own food”.

Since making his debut in 2012, Blaka Dan, who was crowned Groovy Monarch the following year with his hit tune “Whole Day we Jammin,” said he has been doing his best to maintain relevance on the local music scene, helping to keep the National Groovy Monarch competition to a level which he feels is appreciated by most people.

“I have worked hard and dedicated myself to bringing forth a product that is appreciated not just by Grenadians but the further world looking on to Grenada,” said the entertainer, who has traveled to numerous countries representing Grenada both regionally and internationally.

“I would not have earned that respect, not just from those in authority but from the ground of people striving for betterment. We as artistes does work hard – it’s not just get up and write a song. We have a lot of sleepless nights trying to finish one song…there are times when we have to walk to the studio (and) we don’t know how we getting back (home).

“There are times when we need a back up singer and we don’t have money to pay them. There are times we have to ask people for favours in Grenada. There are times, the kind of service that people give to us we can’t repay them, just based on our position and how we are treated and it’s a lot of work it’s very difficult.

“To maintain a status in Grenada, it’s not easy and after all that you put in…the least you would expect from people put in place to manage you is respect,” he added.

Attempts made by THE NEW TODAY to contact SMC CEO Jacob for clarity on the issue up until press time on Wednesday proved futile.

DERELICT BUILDINGS IN AND AROUND ST. GEORGE’S

(This article was first published in June 2018)

This is an extract from a tWRF 68 page publication titled: THE PRIDE OF OUR WATERFRONT HERITAGE – THE RENAISSANCE OF URBAN ST. GEORGE, which is due for circulation in May 2019. Because of the current public concern and anxiety which has gone viral due to the extent of the deterioration and the impending danger to public safety it was decided to release this section in advance, for public feedback and to obtain a response from the authorities.

DERELICT BUILDINGS IN AND AROUND ST. GEORGE’S

The Willie Redhead foundation (tWRF) has always expressed its concerns about the derelict buildings in St. George’s and its environs.

The owners or inheritors of these buildings obviously have lost interest in their maintenance and refurbishment, perhaps due to escalating construction and maintenance costs, and in some cases absentee owners who do not intend to return to Grenada.

The buildings have become a source of infestation from mosquitoes, rats, roaches and other disease carrying rodents and insects and also pose a threat to public safety and the incidents of FIRE.

We believe the Government has the authority and power to take control of these buildings that can be used for the purpose of creating a market economy specifically for small local investors, by first publishing the government’s intention in the press and in the Government Gazette by giving 60 days notice or other necessary legal requirements after which the STATE would take the necessary action.

These buildings can and should be cleared of all debris or demolished if a threat to public safety and sold to local investors at a cost equivalent to demolition or clean up of the works with the following suggested conditions:

Cation: At the corner of Hughes’ Street and the Carenage

 

 

 

 

 

(1). The commencement of refurbishment/reconstruction must commence within a year and completed within a specific period.

(2). The design must conform to the architecture specific to St. George’s, i.e. clay tiled roof and external brick facing in the Georgian Style.

(3). Government to grant duty free concessions on materials.

(4). The developer/investor must be local or have local interests

(5). A waiver of outstanding property taxes owed on the derelicts.

(6). Restored property is not to be sold before 20 years.

(7). No entrepreneur would be allowed to acquire more than two (2) properties.

We believe bank loans can be based on value of the land as collateral, and not clean up costs. This would certainly encourage local investors and perhaps give the present owners, if any can be identified or determined, a new start.

(The above reflects the views of the Willie Redhead Foundation)