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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Car Accident: Civil Proceedings Limitations

Q: Around carnival time (February 2010) I reversed and hit someone's car near my friend's house. At the time, the person was not interested in making a police report, etc. because according to him, he had intentions of re-painting his car and when that time came, he would make me aware of the cost to fix the dent.

Last week (December 2010), I saw the same car with the dent and I'm wondering if he can still pursue a claim for the damage?

A: The answer is YES and here's why:

Section 5 of the Limitation of Personal Actions Ordinance Ch 5:06 provides: (since repealed and replaced by the Limitation of Certain Actions - Chapter 7:09.

“5. All actions for the recovery of any chattel or moveable thing, or the possession thereof, all actions founded upon any simple contract without specialty, all actions for damage or injury to persons or property, and all personal and mixed actions whatsoever, shall and may be commenced and sued within four years next after the cause of such actions, and not after; except, nevertheless, all actions by this Ordinance otherwise specially provided for, and except also all actions of assault, battery, wounding, imprisonment, or any of them, and all actions of libel and slander, which said actions of assault, battery, wounding, imprisonment, libel, and slander, shall be commenced and sued within two years next after the cause of such actions, and not after.”

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Trinidad and Tobago Jury Duty/Summons

Q: Hi, I have been following your blog, it is good work, keep it up. I have a topic I cannot find out about online or from anybody I ask. How does somebody get out of jury duty? I have a friend who got a summons letter today. Thanks for any info.

A: Jury Duty should be an honour! I don't know why you would want to get out of it without a legitimate reason. Anyway, everyone is called to jury duty, even Barack Obama while he was President. I received a Jury Summons in America when I lived there, but because I wasn't born there, I didn't qualify... disappointed.

Most information about Jury Duty in Trinidad and Tobago can be found in the Jury Act - Chapter 6:53 (as amended).

Section 37 states that you will be fined and if defaulted, imprisoned for failing to respond to a Jury Summons.

Section 4 of the Act outlines the qualifications you will need to be a Juror, so not meeting the criteria will be your friend's first defence.

If he/she meets all Section 4 criteria, disqualification under Section 5 is still possible, as well as the unlikely cases in Section 17 and Section 18.

When I interned at a Law Firm in Port-of-Spain, I had to attend many cases at the Hall of Justice to see what the process is like. I remember attending the jury selection for a murder trial and 70% of the potential jurors came prepared to get out of Jury Duty, but the Judge (can't remember her name) wasn't in the mood to hear any of the excuses people were using.

The most legitimate excuses I heard and thought would work were all rebutted:
•fear for life - "There is nothing to fear"
•child care (children past the breast feeding stage) - "You will have sufficient time to make arrangements"
•living too far - "You won't be here every day and you will receive remuneration under Section 34."
•no time off (might get fired) - It's your legal obligation and you can't get fired under Section 42

I will say though, that urgent travel plans, funerals, weddings and serious illnesses are legitimate reasons, but I am in no way encouraging you to lie.