Law Association wants Independent ‘Silk’ Process

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

THE Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) is again calling for a transparent and independent process in appointing persons to Senior Counsel (silk) status. 

In a media release on Friday, while the LATT congratulated the recently appointed senior counsel members, the association emphasised that the Prime Minister alone should not be responsible for who gets the prestigious law title.

“The choices are in the sole discretion of the Prime Minister and, therefore, prone to the charge of political bias,” LATT stated. 

Outlining a history of Senior Counsel appointments from 1964, from the Trinidad and Tobago Gazette entitled “Procedure for the Appointment of Queens Counsel”, LATT stated that based on that procedure appointments would have been made by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister.  

LATT stated, “Members who desired to be appointed would submit their applications to the Attorney General, who would consult with the Chief Justice and such other persons or bodies as he considered necessary, but he would not be under any obligation to do so. After his consultations, the Attorney General would submit his recommendations to the Prime Minister, who would advise the Governor General on what appointments to make.”

LATT stated  there was no provision for how often applications were to be invited or guidance on the numbers that would be admitted at each call and there was no indication of the various categories of applications that would be awarded. 

LATT referred to a document it had produced in 2015 entitled ‘The Report of the 29th Council on the Appointment of Senior Counsel.”

The release stated, “The Law Association once again calls for the adoption of the recommendations of its ‘Report of the 29th Council on the Appointment of Senior Counsel’ to ensure a transparent and independent process of selection at specified intervals,  which is not subject ultimately to the dictates of the Executive.” 

The report recommends a transparent procedure for the appointment of Senior Counsel. The appointments would be made by the president on the recommendation of an independent panel comprising the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, three judges of the Supreme Court and three Senior Counsel appointed by the association.  

LATT stated that Trinidad and Tobago remains behind while even the United Kingdom has transitioned to better processes. 

Using Jamaica, as an example, LATT stated that the Prime Minister advises the Governor General to appoint persons recommended by an independent committee. 

The LATT also reminded of the critieria published in the Gazette in 1977 which applicants for Senior Counsel status would have to meet. 

These include:  professional eminence and distinction, sound intellectual ability and a thorough, comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of law and practice in the fields in which they practice, outstanding ability as an advocate in the higher courts, the highest professional standing, total professional integrity, maturity of judgement and balance and a high quality of practice of at least 10 years in the higher courts.

On Monday, 13 persons from the law fraternity were appointed as Senior Counsel by President Christine Kangaloo including two sitting Government Members of Parliament – Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi and MP for Port of Spain South Keith Scotland and chairman of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) Ravindra Nanga. 

Other awardees on Monday were Annabelle Sooklal, Anthony Smart, Hasine Shaikh, Winston Seenath, Mark Morgan, Lee Merry, Eliane Green, Gregory Delzin, Simon de La Bastide and Regan Asgarali. 

Three more persons are yet to receive the award including Energy Minister Stuart Young, Justin Phelps and Justin Deonarine. 


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