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Court: Privy Council

Privy Council quashes Jamaican police’s decision to promote a Superintendent, after refusing to investigate 37 fatal shootings under his command

Jamaicans for Justice v Police Service Commission and another (Jamaica) [2019] UKPC 12

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has allowed an appeal, which quashes the Jamaican Police Service Commission’s (“PSC”) decision to recommend the promotion of Superintendent Hewitt (“Supt Hewitt”), following numerous complaints of fatal shootings made by officers under his command.Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), a non-governmental human rights organisation first raised complaints about these fatal shootings with the PSC in July 2009 and asked what investigations there had been. They again raised complaints in July and November 2010 after receiving no response. Shortly afterwards, the Commissioner advised the PSC that Supt Hewitt was being recommended for promotion, as an officer who had commanded challenging divisions and succeeded in reducing crime.The PSC requested a fatal incident report which contained particulars of 37 incidents involving Supt Hewitt, most of which were still under investigation. Despite further concerns raised by JFJ, in April 2011 the Director of Public Prosecutions reported that no charges would be brought in relation to the fatal incidents and the PSC recommended that Supt Hewitt be appointed a Senior Superintendent.The court found that the purpose of setting up the PSC under s 129 of the Constitution of Jamaica is to insulate the JCF from political influence. They held that the PSC must exercise its functions in a manner which is compatible with the fundamental rights of all persons, including the right to life, the right to equality before the law and the right to due process of law, guaranteed by section 13 of the Constitution.Although there was no statutory duty to give proper consideration to the recommendation to promote Supt Hewitt, a proper discharge of the PSC’s functions did require it. The court found that the PSC had the power to ask the independent complaints commission (INDECOM) to investigate, and such an investigation might have revealed a different picture from the brief information with which the PSC had been provided. The final decision would have still been that of the PSC, but there was a reasonable prospect that a properly informed PSC might have made a different decision.Mr Hewitt has now retired so the quashing of the PSC’s decision and requirement for reconsideration has become academic.

Privy Council upholds quashing of ‘conflict of interests’ conviction

Director of Public Prosecutions v Jugnauth & Anor [2019] UKPC 8

This appeal considered the correct interpretation of the Prevention of Corruption Act 2002, s 13(2) and (3), which creates an offence where a public official takes part in the proceedings of a public body relating to a decision in which they or their relatives has a personal interest.
The Privy Council dismissed the appeal against the quashing of the conviction of the respondent for the offence of ‘conflict of interests’.
At the material time, the respondent was Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development. He had previously been a director and secretary of Medpoint Ltd. He resigned these positions in 1994 but retained his shareholding, and his sister also held shares in the company. In 2010 the respondent declared a personal interest and left the meeting at which funding to be given to Medpoint Ltd for an NGH project was discussed, and subsequently informed his senior adviser that he was to deal with the matter so that the respondent was not involved.
The Privy Council found that there was a binding contract and a legal commitment to pay the money to Medpoint Ltd and the decision with which the conviction was concerned was whether this money would come from MOFED’s or MOHQL’s budgeted funds. The Privy Council held that the respondent’s sister, Mrs Malhotra, could not have had a personal interest within s 13(2) in the decision of where the money would come from. This was because the decision, whichever way it went, could not have affected any interest of Mrs Malhotra or the company in any way. As such, the decision taken by the respondent to approve a reallocation of funds at the stage after funds had been identified, after the payment deadline had been determined, after the contract had been awarded and after the contract amount had been determined was not a decision in which his sister had any personal interest. Therefore the Privy Council considered this to be sufficient to dispose of the appeal, finding in favour of the respondent.

Jersey third-party debt order not immune from enforcement under State Immunity Act 1978

Boru Hatlari Ile Petrol Taşima AŞ & Ors v Tepe Insaat Sanayii AS [2018] UKPC 31

The first appellant Boru Hatlari Ile Petrol Taşima AŞ (Botaş) and the respondent Tepe İnşaat Sanayii AŞ (Tepe), are Turkish companies. A group of Main Export Pipeline participants led by BP engaged Botaş as main contractor under a turnkey contract for the construction and operation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Botaş in turn inter alia, engaged […]

Prisoner to remain on death row after Privy Council refuses to admit new evidence

Chandler v Trinidad and Tobago [2018] UKPC 5

The appellant was sentenced to death by hanging following a murder conviction in 2011. He appeal raises the issue as to whether new medical evidence should now be admitted relating to his mental state at the time of the offence, with a view to supporting a case of diminished responsibility. He also renews his appeal […]

Decision to set aside a motion that had not been endorsed by an attorney upheld

Hurnam v Attorney General & Ors (Mauritius) [2017] UKPC 33

This case considered whether there had been an abuse of process in setting aside a motion where it had been signed by a litigant in person not an attorney. The Privy Council held that the Supreme Court of Mauritius was right to set aside the appellant’s motion and there was no need to address its […]