Saturday, 23 April 2016

Imprisonment with hard labour

Q: Recently, I heard on the news that someone was sentence to hard labour. What is hard labour in Trinidad and Tobago? 
Inmates at the Golden Grove Prison, Arouca
A: According to the Prisons Act 1900, as amended:
·         6(2) Any person who may have been sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour may lawfully be kept and worked at hard labour on any highway, road, street or public place, or in any other place beyond the precincts of any prison which the Minister may from time to time by writing under his hand authorise and appoint.



Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Self-Representation at Magistrates' Court

Q: The Magistrate at the San Fernando Court told me that I must get a lawyer even after I told her I could not afford one. Do I have to get a lawyer?


A: This happens quite often because unfortunately, a lot of judges and magistrates in Trinidad & Tobago barely know the law themselves. It seems like a big scam where these people on the bench collude with lawyers to rip off the citizens of our country.

Every person has the statutory right to represent him/herself at the Magistrates' Court and NO Magistrate can force you to retain an attorney... NONE!

According to the Petty Civil Courts Act 1911, as amended:

 35. (1) Any party may appear at the hearing to conduct his action in person OR may be represented by an Attorney-at-law.

(2) Any person may appear and conduct the case of his wife or child or servant being a member of his household. (this means that a husband may represent his wife or child)

(3) Subject as aforesaid no person, not being an Attorney-at-law duly retained, shall be heard on behalf of any party to any action or other proceeding (this means that, for example, your law student nephew cannot represent you at court)


Despite this, I would always suggest that if your matter may involve imprisonment you should retain legal counsel, but at the end of the day, it's still your choice.

Beware of the legal fraternity mafia!


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Taxes on severance benefits

Q: I would like to find out if an employee was given the 45 days notice on a redundancy and they took the option of payment In Lieu of notice, would this amount be taxed?


A: According to section 5(6) of the Income Tax Act 1938, as amended,

"... where under a contract of employment the employer is liable to pay an amount by way of severance pay upon the termination of the employment of an employee by reason of the redundancy of the position held by the employee or upon the retirement, or other termination of the employment, by reason of ill-health—

  • (a) so much of the amount as does not exceed three hundred thousand dollars shall be exempt from tax


Section 5(7) gives a definition of the term:“severance pay” includes any payment in lieu of notice and any payment made in relation to past service of the employee;