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Section 5 of the Limitation of Personal Actions Ordinance Ch 5:06 provides: (since repealed and replaced by the Limitation of Certain Actions - Chapter 7:09.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

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Habeus Corpus - Illegal Detention

Q: What remedies do I have against illegal imprisonment?

A: The ultimate purpose of a writ of habeas corpus is to provide a remedy in cases of illegal restraint or confinement by testing the legality of a person’s detainment. A petition for issuance of the writ can be filed by the imprisoned person or by other individuals acting on his or her behalf. If the court cannot find any legal justification for the person’s detention, an immediate release is ordered.

It remains in effect today (especially in the UK and US), where it is most often used in immigration cases to test the legality of the detention of immigrants, extradition proceedings, and to challenge detention under mental health legislation.

In Trinidad and Tobago, this is governed by the Habeas Corpus Act 8:01 as amended by the The Habeus Corpus (Amendment) Bill, 1996.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Trinidad and Tobago Defamation

Q: What can I do if someone writes something about me on Facebook that is untrue?

A: You can bring a civil suit for defamation.

There are two types of defamation; libel and slander. Libel is a defamatory statement in a permanent form, usually written, e.g. in a newspaper, book, letters, paintings, etc. Slander is a defamatory statement in a transient (non-permanent) form, usually by means of spoken words or gesture (very difficult to prove).

In the case of Facebook postings, it is obviously libel.

The laws governing defamation in Trinidad and Tobago can be found in the Libel and Defamation Act - Chapter 11:16.

Slander- Section 2: No action for defamation shall be maintainable in any Court of justice in Trinidad and Tobago in respect of words spoken, except [in specific clear-cut cases].

Libel - Section 8: If any person maliciously publishes defamatory libel, knowing it to be false, he is liable on conviction to imprisonment for two years and to pay such fine as the Court directs.

Section 9: If any person maliciously publishes any defamatory libel, upon conviction he is liable to pay a fine and to imprisonment for one year.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

Q: What are my Human Rights in Trinidad and Tobago?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is for everyone regardless of where they live. On December 10th, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human Rights are split into two categories: Civil and political (up to Article 21) and Economic, social and cultural (the remaining Articles). Civil and political rights are rights that are mandatory, while economic, social and cultural rights are not. For example, one can walk into any court and demand a right to life, but it would be impossible to demand an education.

Here is an abbreviated list of the Articles in the UDHR 1948.

Article 1 Right to Equality
Article 2 Freedom from Discrimination
Article 3 Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
Article 4 Freedom from Slavery
Article 5 Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
Article 6 Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
Article 7 Right to Equality before the Law
Article 8 Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
Article 9 Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
Article 10 Right to Fair Public Hearing
Article 11 Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
Article 12 Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and Correspondence
Article 13 Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
Article 14 Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
Article 15 Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
Article 16 Right to Marriage and Family
Article 17 Right to own Property
Article 18 Freedom of Belief and Religion
Article 19 Freedom of Opinion and Information
Article 20 Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Article 21 Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
Article 22 Right to Social Security
Article 23 Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions
Article 24 Right to Rest and Leisure
Article 25 Right to Adequate Living Standard
Article 26 Right to Education
Article 27 Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community
Article 28 Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
Article 29 Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
Article 30 Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Doctrine of Recent Complaint

Q: What is the doctrine of recent complaint?

A: The Doctrine of recent complaint is a legal principle whereby sexually assaulted women had to report the rape at the first reasonable opportunity or it was inferred that the offence had never taken place. A "legitimate victim", it was argued, would report such a crime to the first person encountered.

This principle has been abrogated in many territories because it has been argued that a traumautised woman would not want to spread the news of her rape to anyone, for fear of being ridiculed.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Co-Ownership of Land: Tenancy in Common

Joint tenancy requires four unities, if those are not ALL satisfied, it becomes a Tenancy in Common.

•Tenants in common can be between two or more persons.

•Ownership can be held in equal shares or unequal shares. For example, John could hold 50% ownership, Mary 25% and Tallulah 25%.

•Co-tenants have the right to possess the property by one tenant or by all the tenants. Tallulah can live in the property by herself or share the property with John and Mary. Neither tenant can exclude the other.

•Upon death, the interest of the deceased co-tenant will pass to the co-tenant's heirs. If Tallulah died, John would still hold 50%, Mary would own 25%, but Tallulah's 25% would pass to whomever she designated in her will.

•To dissolve the tenancy in common, one or more co-tenants can buy out the others.

•The property can be sold and the proceeds distributed equally among the owners.

Creating a tenancy in common
Joint tenancy is presumed unless there are words indicating tenants in common. It can also be clearly stated by using words such as “to AB and CD in equal shares” or “AB and CD as tenants in common.” The share of each tenant is decided by the law in one of four ways:
• Deed or Will eg: “To AB one quarter undivided share and to CD three quarter undivided share”;
• Agreement: Any agreement between the owners as to their individual share;
• Contributions: The contribution to the deposit (if any) can determine the share a person holds;
• Equity: This is work done improving the property and increasing its value; but this must be more than general maintenance and decoration —it must be something out of the ordinary, going beyond what would normally be expected of a co-owner such as adding a room to a house or changing a roof.

Breaking a tenancy in common
The shares can be changed by agreement. This must be in the form of a deed.

Rights and duties of co-owners
Co-owners, irrespective of the type of tenancy, share certain rights relative to each other and to the property, except to the extent they have modified these rights through an agreement among themselves:
• Right of Access: Each owner has an unrestricted right of access to the property and where one co-owner wrongfully excludes another from making use of the property, the excluded co-owner can bring an action against the other co-owner.
• Right to Rent: Each owner has a right to the profits made from the property. If the property generates income such as rent, each owner is entitled to a pro-rata share of that income.
• Contribution: Each owner has a right of contribution for the costs of owning the property such as property taxes and mortgages on the entire property.
Co-owners do not have any obligation to contribute to any costs of repairing or improving the property so if one co-owner adds a feature that enhances the value of the property, that co-owner has no right to demand that any others share the cost of adding that feature - even if other co-owners reap greater profits from the property because of it.
However, when the property is being divided up, a co-owner is entitled to recover the value added by his or her improvements of the property. Conversely, if the co-owner's "improvements" decrease the value of the property, the co-owner is responsible for the decrease.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Co-Ownership of Land: Joint Tenancy

Q: I'd like to purchase some land with my boyfriend, are there any things you think I should be aware of?

A: I'll answer this question in two parts: Joint Tenancy and Tenancy in Common.

Jus Accrescendi (the right of survivorship) is the most important difference between a Joint Tenancy (JT) and a Tenancy in Common (TC). Survivorship means that when a Joint Tenant dies, his/her heirs have no claim in the property because the property is left for the surviving joint tenants ONLY. This is because of the Four Unities concept that is essential to show interests in land.

The Four Unities:
Time - Interest of each co-owner must be acquired at the SAME time.

Interest - Each co-owner must plan to have interest for the same extent, nature and duration.

Title - Each co-owner must have derived ownership from the same document... ONE deed.

Possession - The land must not be divided. Each co-owner must be equally entitled to the whole of the property.

If the Four Unities are not all present, the interest cannot be held as joint tenants, but may be held as tenants in common, provided that there is unity of possession.

Severing a Joint Tenancy
In Trinidad and Tobago a Joint Tenancy can be severed (ended) in three ways, identified by Page-Wood V-C in Williams v Hensman (1861) 1 John & H. 546, 557-558; 70 ER at p. 867. It must be a present -not future- intention to sever.

1. Acting upon one’s share (alienation) -
This method involves destroying one of the four unities: possession, interest, title or time. The standard way to do so was unilaterally to assign one’s interest to trustees, or to sell or mortgage one’s interest.

2. A joint tenancy may be severed by mutual agreement by all co-owners.

3. There may be a severance by any course of dealing sufficient to intimate that the interests of all were mutually treated as constituting a tenancy in common.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Criminal Joint Enterprise Law

Q: What would happen if I went to attack someone with my friends, and one of them killed the person?

Here is the full Panorama programme about Joint Enterprise, first aired on 23 Nov 2009.

A: Joint Enterprise occurs when several people participate in a common criminal venture, either by agreement to commit an offence or a sudden spontaneous common intention.

You can find a list of Joint Enteprise cases in Trinidad and Tobago by typing it in the "subject" line and searching.

For example, if 5 people agree to attack someone and one person (A) carried a weapon and used it to kill that person during the fight, the possibilities for the other 4 (B) based on individual facts are:

1. Murder - If B foresaw that A might intentionally kill or cause really serious harm, B will be liable for murder on the basis of their continued participation. Foresight makes B as guilty as A and both will be found guilty of murder.

2. Manslaughter - If B did not foresee the risk of really serious harm or death, but did intend to assault, the dangerous act of assault renders B liable for manslaughter. There was no intention of serious harm or killing, but any assault can bring about any of those results.

3. Assault/Actual Bodily Harm (ABH) - B's only intention was to inflict non-life threatening harm.

4. Nothing - Murder REQUIRES an intention to kill or cause Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH). If B did not have the direct intention or foresaw that A could have done what he did, B is not morally liable.

You now have to ask yourself which category you fall into.

This does not apply if someone joins an on-going attack because there was no common intention.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Child Education - Parental Responsibility

Q: With the rate of crime being linked to a lack of educated youths in T&T, is there anything to make parents responsible if they don't ensure that their child/children are educated?

A: As a matter of fact, there is. By law, all children of compulsory school age (5 to 16) must receive a suitable full-time education. As a parent, you have a legal responsibility to make sure this happens - either by registering your child at a school or by making other arrangements to give them a suitable, full-time education. Once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly.

If they do not, you SHOULD be contacted by your child’s school or the local authority. Local authorities have a duty to step in if they believe a child is not getting the education required by law, either at home or at school... but as always, in Trinidad & Tobago, no one cares!

Section 77 of the Education Act - 39:01 imposes the legal obligation on parents:

"... it shall be the duty of the parent of every child of compulsory school age to cause him to receive EFFICIENT full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, by regular attendance at school."

When the government starts taking this seriously, we'll have more educated children who won't be interested in gangs to go about robbing, kidnapping and murdering people without remorse.

Laptops and new schools aren't the answer if the parents aren't held responsible for their children. In Trinidad and Tobago, many parents don't send their children for lessons, help them with homework or even keep in constant communication with Teachers (Parent/Teacher Meetings). This is ESPECIALLY important during secondary school when the negative influences become palpable. I'm sure the 2010 Scholarship winners had the full support of their parents.

I attended Richmond Street Boys, Rosary Boys (for lessons) and St. Anthony's College and all my Teachers knew my parents very well!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Trinidad & Tobago [Incompetent] Police Service

Update: Unfortunately, the Officers received a TT$1,000 increase subsequent to this threat.

Q: I read this ridiculous article this morning and I want to know if they can do this?

A: The short answer is yes. They can't go on strike, but a work-to-rule means that they're doing their work, albeit the BARE minimum, which, in my opinion, they already do.

I just cannot fathom why, at a time when the country has no faith in the TTPS, they decide to ask for a pay raise.

The main duties of a Police Officer in Trinidad and Tobago are embedded in Section 45 of the Police Service Act- Chapter 15:01. Out of eight, the two most important duties are that a Police Officer:
(a) Shall preserve the peace and detect crime and other breaches of the law
(h) Shall generally do and perform ALL the duties appertaining to the office of a constable

How many times can we say that the police have fulfilled just these two essential duties?

With a salary in the vicinity of TT $8500 a month for a Constable (the lowest ranked officer), they make more money than many Trinbagonians and don't work as hard. There are many instances where officers don't show up when called, arrive late, give the excuse of no cars or no officers, ridicule people who go in to make complaints, abuse their power by assaulting the citizens they've sworn to protect and of widespread corruption.

This article on 20/08/2010 highlights the incompetence of our Police Service, yet they want tax payers to pay them more for less? The only places we go and pay more for less is at very fancy restaurants and that's because the service is usually top class.

The UK police made similar threats in 2006 and 2008, but the fact that they are committed to their duties, the threats never materialised. However, they ultimately received a pay raise of approximately £500 a year.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Trinidad and Tobago Prostitution

Q: Are there any laws in T&T against prostitution?

A: Of course! Prostitution (women only) is illegal under 46(j) of the Summary Offences Act 1921, as amended.

The Sexual Offences Act - Chapter 1986, as amended also makes selling and buying any sex service illegal in Trinidad and Tobago.

A prostitute can serve 5 years if caught soliciting sex and there is a stiffer sentence of 15 years for the person obtaining the service.

Owning or knowingly leasing property to establish a brothel is also illegal under Section 22 and can bring a 5 year sentence, but they still remain open with the occasional police raid.

These places allow the human trafficking trade to flourish because many of the prostitutes in the clubs are illegal South Americans and Guyanese who are victims of the sex trade. When they get arrested, some are deported, but many are released because a person cannot be deported without a passport.

With the reputation of the T&T Police Service, I'm sure bribery has a lot to do with strip clubs and brothels remaining open.

Click here for a map and list of the legal status of prostitution around the world.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Compensation for injuries/death

Q: My family and I got into a car accident around Carnival time and my sister was badly injured. She recently succumbed to her injuries. Can I sue the driver who caused the accident?

A: Firstly, my condolences. If you can find him, the Compensation for Injuries Act - Chapter 8:05 is the legislation that you can use to recover damages. According to Section 3, any death caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default is subject to compensation and can also result in arrest of the wrongdoer.

To bring such a case, if the person left a will, the executor/executrix has six months to file a claim. If there is no claim filed in six months, then the recognised dependants (grandparent, parent, spouse, child or sibling) may bring a case at the same time. There cannot be more than one action brought before the court, so each individual cannot file his/her own case.

To file this case, you will have to visit one of the High Courts in Trinidad and Tobago. You must know who the person is and how to find him because the court does not do any detective work.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Capital Punishment/Death Penalty/Hangings

Q: What does the law of Trinidad and Tobago say about hangings?

A: We all know that after the most famous hangings in Trinidad and Tobago, which involved Nankissoon Boodram (Dole Chadee) and his 8 henchmen, the hanging of Anthony Briggs was the last the country has seen.
Why? The main reason is a plethora of Human Rights Laws.

Chronology of Death Penalty laws in Trinidad and Tobago.
1. The Bill of Rights 1688 expressly prohibits any "cruel and unusual punishment".

2. According to Section 4 of the Offences Against the Person Act (Chapter 11:08) "Every person convicted of murder shall suffer death" and the Criminal Procedure Act (Chapter 12:02) in section 57 provides:−
"(1) Every warrant for the execution of any prisoner under sentence of death shall be under the hand and Seal of the President, and shall be directed to the Marshal, and shall be carried into execution by such Marshal or his assistant at such time and place as mentioned in the warrant; and the warrant shall be in the form set out as Form A in the Second Schedule ..."

Form A expressly recites that the person involved has been sentenced to be: "hanged by the neck until he be dead". The President of the Republic in signing the warrant authorises the execution in that manner.

3. Section 5(2) of The Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago states that:
"Parliament may not- (b) impose or authorise the imposition of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment...

However, Section 6(1) of the Constitution states:
"Nothing in sections 4 and 5 shall invalidate – (a) an existing law …".
An existing law is a law that was implemented before the Constitution. While the Bill of Rights 1688 pre-dates the laws in #2, it must be read with subsequent legislation and common law.

International Appeals/Privy Council
In the 4-1 Privy Council appeal rejection for Ronald John v State of Trinidad and Tobago (2009), Baroness Hale, in her dissenting opinion said: “It is accepted that the death penalty is imposed and executed for the crime of murder consistent with the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, and where the debate concerns the mandatory imposition of the death penalty in all cases of murder irrespective of the circumstances. It is accepted that our task as the supreme court for Trinidad and Tobago, is to uphold its law whether we like it or not.”

However, this is still not the case because the Privy Council members' personal beliefs still interfere with their decision making.

The ruling in Thomas v Baptiste [2000] 1 AC 1 confirmed that there could not be execution of prisoners with pending petitions before international bodies. However, this was immediately repealed by the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2000.
This means that even if a convicted criminal has applied to the Privy Council, they could be hanged during the waiting period, but it is yet to be followed.

Essentially, the Privy Council should not have as much power as they do when it comes to capital punishment in Trinidad and Tobago, especially with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in place, but with politics being more important than what's best for the country, we have yet to see the Constitutional Reform to permanently remove the Privy Council. Some CCJ judges even think it's insulting to continue using the Privy Council, disregarding the role of the CCJ.

When the Government (PNM) attempted to enact a new Constitution, the Opposition (UNC) refused to agree to the changes until it changed the system of voting (proportional representation). The new Government (UNC/PP) is trying to do the same thing, and I hope the Opposition (PNM) would forget politics and do the right thing for the country.

Trinidad and Tobago's response to the Death Penalty
According to research, almost 90% of Trinbagonians want the death penalty (See: David A. C. Simmons, Conflicts of Law and Policy in the Caribbean-Human Rights and Enforcement of the Death. Penalty-Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 2000 Journal of Transnational Law and Policy, 263, p. 266)

My opinion
Hang them in Woodford Square!

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who became Britain's first female Prime Minister in 1979, said, "I personally have always voted for the death penalty because I believe that people who go out prepared to take the lives of other people forfeit their own right to live. I believe that the death penalty should be used only very rarely, but I believe that no-one should go out certain that no matter how cruel, how vicious, how hideous their murder, they themselves will not suffer the death penalty."

I like this quote because she expresses my views exactly. The Death Penalty, in any form, is necessary, but only in cases where the truth is undeniable and the crime is diabolical, such as the murderers who did this. Also see this.

In an effort to present both sides...
Opposition to the Death Penalty:
Irrevocably Unjust

The Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association (TTHA), along with many other organisations around the world have done research to conclude that there is no country in the world where the death penalty has been proven to reduce crime. Although this is true, why should statistics in other countries influence our decision?

Let's hope that hangings in Trinidad and Tobago resume very soon.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


Q: What are the steps to getting a divorce in Trinidad and Tobago?

A: The law under the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act Chap 45:51.

Section 5(1) - a divorce petition cannot be presented until one year of marriage has passed, unless there are extreme circumstances.

Section 3 - the marriage must be at a stage where reconciliation is impossible.

Section 4(1) - The person initiating the divorce must prove:

(a) that the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;

(b) that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;

(c) that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;

(d) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to a decree being granted;

(e) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.

Section 4(2) - Empowers the court to investigate

Section 24(1) - A spouse may be entitled to maintenance especially when the other decides to leave his/her partner in a position that may impose a burden on society (benefits, etc.) i.e., disability or children. Most recent case at the time of posting: Ann-Marie Ramdhan v Peter Ramcharan, delivered on 22/06/2010.

If one spouse is overseas, Sections 62 - 62H lays down the law in that regard.

The procedure:
Contact one of the following to get a form:

Registration House
72-74 South Quay
Port of Spain
(868) 624-1660

32 Pro Queen Street
(868) 667-1700

(868) 639-3210

Note: In order to facilitate and respect the beliefs of other religions, there are separate laws governing Muslim and Hindu marriages and divorces in Trinidad and Tobago, which are:
-Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, Chap. 45:02
-Hindu Marriage Act, Chap. 45:03

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Intestacy: Dying without a Will

Q: What happens when someone dies without leaving a Will?

A: A person dies intestate when he/she does not leave a Will or leaves a Will that is later found to be invalid. The rules of Intestacy in Trinidad and Tobago are governed by the Administration of Estates Act, Sections 23 - 31 and The Distribution of Estates Act, 2000.

The estate (all possessions of the deceased) is divided according to the rules of Intestacy. Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.

Parents, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews of the intestate person may inherit under the rules of intestacy, but this depends on a number of circumstances:

•whether there is a surviving married or civil partner
•whether there are children, grandchildren or great grandchildren.
•in the case of nephews and nieces, whether the parent directly related to the person who has died is also dead
•the amount of the estate

Other relatives may a right to inherit if the person who died intestate had no surviving married partner or civil partner, children, grandchildren, great grand-children, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces. The order of priority amongst other relatives is as follows:-

•uncles and aunts

The following people have no right to inherit where someone dies without leaving a will:

•unmarried partners
•lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership
•relations by marriage
•close friends

23. An estate or interest to which a deceased person was entitled on his death in respect of which he dies intestate shall, after all payment of debts, duties, and expenses be distributed or held on trust amongst the same persons being kin or next of kin in accordance with sections 24, 25, 26 and 26A.

Married or civil partner
A married/civil partner may inherit under the rules of intestacy only if they are actually married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. So if you are divorced or if your civil partnership has been legally ended, you cannot inherit under the rules of intestacy. However, partners who separated informally can still inherit under the rules of intestacy.

24. (1) Where an intestate dies leaving a surviving spouse but no issue, his estate shall be distributed to or held on trust for the surviving spouse absolutely.

(2) Where an intestate dies leaving issue, but no spouse, his estate shall be distributed per stirpes among the issue.
(each branch of the family must receive an EQUAL share of an estate)


(3) Where an intestate dies leaving a spouse and one child, the surviving spouse shall take one-half of the estate absolutely and the other half shall be distributed to or held on trust for the child.

(4) Where the intestate dies leaving a spouse and more than one child, the surviving spouse shall take one-half the estate absolutely and the remaining one-half shall be distributed to or held on trust for the children.


25. (1) Notwithstanding section 24, where an intestate dies leaving no surviving spouse, but dies leaving a surviving cohabitant, the cohabitant shall be treated for the purposes of this Act as if he or she were a surviving spouse of the intestate.

Separated from Legal Wife with a Co-habitant

(2) Notwithstanding section 24, where an intestate dies leaving a spouse and a cohabitant and the intestate and his spouse were at the time of his death living separate and apart from one another, only such part of the estate as was acquired during the period of cohabitation shall be distributed to the cohabitant, subject to the rights of a surviving spouse and any issue of the intestate.


(3) A surviving cohabitant claiming a share of the estate of an intestate under this section shall, within twenty-eight days of the death of the intestate, file with the Registrar of the Supreme Court a notification of interest as the surviving cohabitant and, within three months thereafter or such other time as the Court considers appropriate having regard to all the circumstances, obtain an order from the Court affirming the cohabitational relationship with the intestate and stating the quantum of the share of the estate to which the cohabitant is entitled.

(4) The Rules Committee shall make Rules for matters arising under this section.

If no one else; Parents.

26. Where an intestate leaves no spouse, no cohabitant or no issue, the estate goes to the parents of the intestate in equal shares or the survivor of them.

Failing that...

26A. Where the intestate leaves no spouse, no issue, no cohabitant and no parent, then his estate shall be distributed to or held on trust for his next of kin living at the time of his death in the following order and manner:

(a) to the brothers and sisters of the whole blood in equal shares;

(b) where there are no brothers or sisters of the whole blood, to the brothers and sisters of the half blood in equal shares;

(c) where there are no brothers and sisters of the whole or half blood to the grandparents of the intestate in equal shares;

(d) where there are no grandparents to the issue of the brothers and sisters of the whole blood;

(e) where there is no issue of the brothers and sisters of the whole blood to the issue of the brothers and sisters of the half blood; and

(f) where there is no issue of the brothers and sisters of the half blood to the uncles and aunts of the intestate, being brothers and sisters of the whole blood and then of the half blood of a parent of the intestate.

26B. Descendants and relatives of the intestate, conceived before his death but born afterwards, inherit as if they had been born in his lifetime and had survived him.

If all else fails

26C. In default of any person taking an absolute interest under the foregoing provisions, the estate of the intestate belongs to the State as bona vacantia. (Goods with no owner)

The State will then follow the procedures set out on Sections 27 - 31.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Happy Birthday Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela!

In my opinion, Nelson Mandela, also a Lawyer and the last of his kind- the other two being Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi- deserves a spot in this blog for all his achievments to date and living to the coveted age of 92!

What bad thing can you say about a man who was imprisoned by white people for 27 years because of his fight against segregation and came out without malice to preach love?

Happy Birthday Madiba!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Rent Restriction Act

Q: (a)My landlord increased the rent by two hundred dollars monthly indicating that the electricity bill went up, no comparison was provided to verify such. For almost a year two lights were not functioning in the apt, for some months cable was not working and the ac unit also was not functional.

(b)Even though, messages were left regarding complaints and nothing was done until long after, there was a delay in providing funds for rent.

(c)Now I am given less than a week to vacate the apartment, what, if any redress is possible?

A: (a)Although the Rent Assessment Board was not functional for some time, they are here to assist you with these problems. However, the Rent Assessment Board only offers protection to registered Landlords and Tenants. When your rent was raised, you should've (or maybe still can according to how long ago this was) taken your case to the Board.

According to the cases of; Ruiz v Lazar (1984), Martin v Boodhan (1984) and Chandler v Alexis (1986), failure to register within the time frame specified in s.11, you would be unable to rely on any provisions in the Rent Restriction Act. This simply means that you would be unable to recover the rent that you saw as unfair.

(b)This sentence is a bit unclear. Elucidate and I will update the post.

(c) What kind of tenancy did you have? Weekly or Monthly? Your type of tenancy will determine how valid your Notice to Quit is.

E-mail me ASAP so I could assist you as quickly as possible.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Pro Se Litigation

Q: Even a simple consultation with a Lawyer is expensive. Are there any alternatives?

A: Part 2

Section 5(2)(c)(ii) of the Constitution embeds the right to consult with and retain an adviser (i.e., an Attorney), but a person can still choose self-representation in court. Pro-Se is Latin for "For Self" and is the legal jargon for self-representation. "In Pro Per" is another term used, which is the abbreviation of "In Propria Persona" and means "in the person of yourself".

In a court of law every citizen has the right to represent himself, whether he is the plaintiff or defendant. This right is usually activated when (a)the person cannot afford a Lawyer, (b)the person refuses to spend money on a Lawyer or (c)the person believes that the case is simple enough to win without a Lawyer. While this is a more cost-effective way, there are a few things to consider:

1. You must know the law and the procedures
2. Careful preparation is necessary to avoid mistakes.
3. Use all the help available (peruse this blog or email me your question)
4. Law is all about case precedence, so study previous cases to strengthen your point. A Judge will not fight your case for you. However, from my experience, a judge will not allow a Pro-Se case to continue if it is believed that the person's section 5(2)(e) rights will be infringed by lack of knowledge.
5. Did you know that a citizen can view a trial at any time? I've observed many trials at the Hall of Justice, mostly drug related. If Judge Judy isn't enough, then by all means, make time to observe and learn from the cases at any of our Supreme Courts. Contact the Judiciary for a list of cases you can attend.

If after all of this you don't feel confident enough to represent yourself in court, my recommendation for an Attorney-at-Law in Trinidad and Tobago would be Mrs. Mindy Nicholas-Stewart. You won't have to spend your month's salary to retain her and after working with her a few years ago, I can personally say that she is VERY good.

Good Luck.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Legal Aid and Advice

Q: Even a simple consultation with a Lawyer is expensive. Are there any alternatives?

A: Part 1

The Legal Aid and Advisory Authority is a unit of the Ministry of Legal Affairs established under the Legal Aid and Advice Act, 1976, to provide legal advice and representation for citizens who may not be able to afford the services of an Attorney, for an application fee of TT$10.

-Salary maximum of TT$3000 per month
-Reasonable grounds for taking, defending, continuing or being a party to any proceedings.
-In Criminal High Court and Magistrates’ Court matters, the decision is up to the Judge reviewing the application, but legal aid is usually granted in the interest of justice.

Legal Matters
The Authority can provide an Attorney for almost all legal matters.

Other costs
Section 24(2) also provides that the applicant may be requested to make a small contribution towards the cost of his matter in Civil High Court matters.

Application Procedure
To apply for legal aid, you must visit one of the legal aid offices, and:
•Fill out a form providing basic information about yourself and the nature of the problem.
•You will then be interviewed by the Legal Officer to determine your eligibility for Legal Aid.
•If you are not eligible you will be given legal advice and referred to a private attorney.
•If eligible, an application form will be given to you. This form is an affidavit and requires that you go before the Justice of the Peace or a Commissioner of Affidavits to swear to the information you provide is true and correct.
•In the case of civil actions, the application form must be returned together with requested documents to the office from where it was obtained. You will be interviewed by an investigator who will prepare a report on your matter.
•This report will be considered by the Authority at its monthly meeting and you will be informed in writing whether or not Legal Aid has been granted.
•If the matter is in the Magistrates Court or Criminal High Court, the application forms are sent to the relevant Courts where the request for Legal Aid is considered by a Magistrate or Judge.
You must sign that your application is true. It is an offence to obtain legal aid with false information.

Nine offices around the country

Head Office
Port of Spain
• Corner Oxford and Edward Street, Port of Spain
Tel: 625-0454
Legal advice: Monday to Friday
8:00am - 4:00pm

San Fernando
• 102-104 Coffee Street, Howard Lane, San Fernando
Tel: 652-2978 or 657-0684
Legal advice: Monday to Friday
8:00am - 4:00pm

Sangre Grande
• Social Welfare Office,
Cor. Savi St and Boodooville Circular Rd, Sangre Grande
Tel: 668-3366
Legal Advice: Mondays
8:00-12:00 noon

• Registrar General's Office
Pro Queen Street (Upstairs Willies Ice Cream), Arima
Tel: 667-1700
Legal Advice: Wednesdays
8:00-12:00 noon

• Family Services Centre, Camden Road, Couva
Tel: 636-5267
Legal Advice: Thursdays
8:00 am -12:00 noon

• Debe/Penal Regional Corporation,
Dookie Street, Penal
Tel: 647-6302
Legal Advise: Fridays
8:00 am - 12:00 noon

• Siparia Regional Corporation
High Street, Siparia
Tel: 649-2348
Legal Advice: Tuesdays
8:00am - 12:00 noon

• Chaguanas Borough Corporation
Rate Paying Office
24 Ramsaran Street, Chaguanas
Tel: 671-0577 / 665-9640
Legal Advise: Tuesdays
8:00am - 12:00 noon

• Fairfield Complex Scarborough Tobago
Tel: 639-6531
Legal Advice: Monday - Friday
8:00am - 4:00pm

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

My Crime Reduction Plan for Trinbago

This is a question to myself.

Q: Why isn't the Trinbago Government making a visible conscientious effort to stop our Section 4 (a)(b) Constituional rights from being infringed by criminals?

A: Here's a VERY brief list of what Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her Government need to do ASAP!

1. The Firearms Act needs to impose stricter sentences on criminals found with illegal firearms. A minimum 5 year sentence plus an extra year for each round of ammunition.

2. Initiate undercover policing all over the country to get information, and guns and drugs of the streets. This will also enable us to find out who the Gang Members are and jail every man jack.

3. Take citizen complaints against the police seriously. This goes against our Constitutional right under Section 4(d). The Police Complaints Authority rarely acknowledges a complaint concerning attacks, threats, harassment and shall I also throw in killings?
There have been OVER 40 killings by state agents since 2003, and these numbers came after Anton Cooper's murder. Remember Sherman Monsegue? I think the officer involved is still in active duty.

4. Better monitoring of criminals who have served time or who were released through technicalities. Trinbago’s recidivism rate (58% as of 2008) MUST be curbed.

5. Counselling for crime victims; this is a very traumatic experience and people should be effectively trained to cope.

6. A Witness Protection Programme that actually works. Remember Clint Huggins on February 20th, 1998, Barrymore Briggs, Sean Quamina, Alicia McKenzie and Jagdesh Mahadeo? 5 of the 8 killed in witness protection. No one will say anything if they'll end up dead! Please, if you see something, say something; call Crime Stoppers on 0800- TIPS (8477)

7. CCTV cameras in the major cities to give the Police eyes where there isn’t enough foot patrol. No more promises, just do.

8. Greater Police presence, especially in residential communities at night.

9. More cars/police officers at stations at night. The current situation is totally unacceptable

10. No more notebooks. We need better technology for records. Easier, faster, more efficient.

11. In the UK, when the Police/Ambulance/Fire is called, the deadline for arrival at the scene is 15 minutes. This should also be implemented in Trinidad and Tobago. Disregarding this illustrates a disregard for public safety, so the ones responsible should be fired/fined/arrested.

Maternity Leave Pay

Q: My boss doesn't want to pay me properly during maternity leave. Is there anything that shows how much he must pay?

A: Firstly, congrats on your pregnancy!

Secondly, you must be employed full-time for at least 12 months. If you meet that criterion, your protection lies under The Maternity Protection Act, 1998 of Trinidad and Tobago. Direct your boss to s.9(1) and (2), which states:

(1) An employee is entitled to thirteen weeks maternity leave and may proceed on such leave six weeks prior to the probable date of confinement as stated in the medical certificate submitted under section 8(1)(c) or at a subsequent date at the employee's discretion, and is required to return to work, subject to section 10, no later than thirteen weeks from the date she proceeded on leave.

(2) During the period of maternity leave, an employee is entitled to receive pay from her employer to an amount equivalent to one month's leave with full pay and two months' leave with half pay.

Good luck, and let me know the outcome!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Trinidad and Tobago: Rights & Freedoms

Q: I always hear people talking about their rights, where can I find a list of this?

A: As with many countries, your rights as a citizen can be found in that country's Constitution. It's no different with Trinidad and Tobago, and your rights can be found in Section 4 of the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution.

It is hereby recognised and declared that in Trinidad and Tobago there
have existed and shall continue to exist, without discrimination by reason of
race, origin, colour, religion or sex, the following fundamental human rights
and freedoms, namely–

(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person
and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived
thereof except by due process of law

(b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the
protection of the law

(c) the right of the individual to respect for his private and family

(d) the right of the individual to equality of treatment from any
public authority in the exercise of any functions

(e) the right to join political parties and to express political views

(f) the right of a parent or guardian to provide a school of his own
choice for the education of his child or ward

(g) freedom of movement

(h) freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance

(i) freedom of thought and expression

(j) freedom of association and assembly

(k) freedom of the press

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Statutory Rape: Consent is Irrelevant

Q: I had sex with a girl, but then I found out she was 15. She looked no younger than 21!

A: It is a well known fact that children are getting involved in sexual activity at the youngest ages we've ever seen, and sometimes subsequently having children, like this 13 year old father in England.

In Trinidad & Tobago, it is no different. A lot of girls use their school-time looking for older men, something which gives them "rank" amongst their peers.

Taking that into consideration, this advice is ESPECIALLY for men.

Statutory rape is a VERY serious offence, which is defined as sexual intercourse by an adult with a person below a statutorily designated age.

The legal age at which a male or a female citizen of Trinidad & Tobago is permitted to have sexual intercourse is sixteen (16) years and over. This is governed by Section 6 of the Sexual Offences Act 1986 as amended by Section 31 of the Sexual Offences Act 2000.

The criminal offense of statutory rape is committed when an adult sexually penetrates a person who, under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex. Minors and physically and mentally incapacitated persons are deemed incapable of consenting to sex.. These persons are considered deserving of special protection because they are especially vulnerable due to their youth or condition.

Statutory rape is different from other types of rape in that force and lack of consent are not necessary for conviction. A defendant will be convicted of statutory rape even if the complainant explicitly consented to the sexual contact and no force was used by the actor. By contrast, other rape generally occurs when a person overcomes another person by force and without the person's consent.

The actor's age is an important factor in statutory rape where the offense is based on the victim's age. Furthermore, a defendant may not argue that he was mistaken as to the minor's age or incapacity.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Replevin: Trinidad & Tobago

Q: My Landlord changed the locks and doesn't want me to get my stuff. What can I do?

A: Replevin is a remedy that enables a tenant to recover possession of goods, which have been illegally distrained. This is further elucidated in Sealandaire Ltd v Paul (1994) High Court, No 169 of 1994

The remedy consists of two parts:
1. the replevy, whereby the tenant obtains re-delivery of the goods; and
2. the action of replevin, in which the validity or otherwise of the distree is determined.

Replevin is ONLY available where the distress was illegal, not where it was excessive or irregular. Illegal distress that can give rise to replevin are:
(a) where no rent was due
(b) where there was no demise at a fixed rent
(c) as in Selandaire, where the landlord/tenant relationship was terminated before the distress was levied

Excessessive distress occurs where more goods are seized than are reasonably necessary to satisfy the arrears of rent and proper charges of the distress.
Carter v Carter (1829) 130 ER 1118
Irregular distress occurs where, although there was a right of distress, a wrongful act was committed at some stage of the proceedings, subsequent to the seizure.
Op cit, Atkin’s Court Forms, fn 121
This remedy can be excercised at any time before the sale of goods. However, according to Warner J in Cornwall v Trincity Commercial Centre Ltd (1996) High Court, No 1437 of 1995, under s 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Ordinance of Trinidad and Tobago, the distrainor is empowered to sell the distrained goods if replevy is not made within five days.

If the claimant is successful, he will NOT be entitled to damages for the value of the goods if they were returned to him when the replevy was made, BUT may recover general damages annoyance and for injury to trade/credit/reputation. Smith v Enright -1893- 63 LJQB 220

For more information on Replevin, please read Commonwealth Caribbean Property Law by Gilbert Kodilinye

Friday, 28 May 2010

Trinidad and Tobago Cabinet: Sworn in on 28-05-2010

After her landslide victory on May 24th, Trinidad and Tobago's First Female Prime Minister has selected her new cabinet of Ministers.

Prime Minister and Minister of Information and Communication – Kamla Persad Bissessar

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan

Minister of Finance- Winston Dookeran

Minister of Works and Transport –Austin Jack Warner

Minister of Education – Dr. Tim Goopeesingh

Minister of Justice – Hubert Volney

Minister of Legal Affairs – Prakash Ramadhar

Minister of Labour, Small and Macro Enterprise Development – Errol Mcleod

Minister of Housing and Environment –Dr. Roodial Moonilal

Minister of Trade and Industry – Stephen Cadiz

Minister of Arts and Culture – Winston Peters

Minister of National Security – Brigadier John Sandy

Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs – Carolyn Seepersad Bachan

Minister of Foreign Affairs – Surujrattan Rambachan

Minister of Public Administration – Nan Ramgoolam

Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education – Fazal Karim

Minister of Public Utilities – Emmanuel George

Minister of Health – Teres Baptiste Cornelius

Minister of Food Production, Lands and Marine Affairs – Vasant Bharath

Minister of Planning, Economic Social Restructuring and Gender Affairs – Mary King

Minister of Local Government - Chandresh Sharma

Minister of Tourism – Dr. Rupert Griffith

Minister of Peoples and Social Development – Dr. Glen Ramdharsingh

Minister of Community Development – Nizam Baksh

Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs – Anil Roberts

Minister of Tobago Development – Vernalla Alleyne Toppin

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The People's Partnership Manifesto: UNC/COP/TOP

Despite stealing the title "Prosperity for all" from the United Kingdom's Labour Party, the manifesto of The People's Partnership is a prima facie, a great manifesto, EXCEPT for the part about giving all school children laptops... a very stupid idea. Any, now you could monitor the government's progress on the fulfillment of its promises.

UNC/COP/TOP: The People's Partnership Manifesto 2010

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Exclusive Possession

Q: Do I need permission from my Landlord to invite guests to my home?

A: Usually no because of the laws on Exclusive Possession and Quiet Enjoyment, but you should read your lease to ensure that your Landlord did not include it somewhere.

Exclusive possession is a necessary characteristic of a lease or tenancy that enables the Tenant to have exclusive possession of the property. This means that the tenant must be given the right to exclude all other persons from the property, including the Landlord. In other words, he doesn't have the right to tell you who to invite as long as you do not interfere with anyone else's Quiet Enjoyment Right.

The absence of exclusive possession means that a tenancy agreement does not exist, in which case it will be a mere license.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Quiet Enjoyment

The right of quiet enjoyment is the right of a tenant to enjoy a rented property without intrusion or disturbance by the landlord.

The leading Trinidad & Tobago case on this matter is:

Ram v Ramkissoon [1968] 13 WIR 332

The appellant was a statutory tenant of two rooms in a central portion of a building where he carried on business as a jeweller. The building was old and in a bad state of repair, and its two end portions had been unoccupied for several years. The respondent landlord, who owned the whole building, wished to obtain vacant possession of the central portion also.

While ejectment proceedings were pending, the respondent removed the galvanized iron sheets from the roof of both end portions of the building. The appellant complained that, as a direct consequence of the removal of the roof, rainwater seeped through the rooms he occupied, causing annoyance, discomfort and physical damage to his property. He claimed damages for breach of the landlord’s implied covenant for quiet enjoyment.

The damage suffered by the appellant was sufficiently substantial to constitute a breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment.

A covenant for quiet enjoyment must be implied from the respondent's contract of letting. To constitute an actionable breach, the interference with the tenant’s enjoyment of the tenancy must be substantial.
The course of conduct by the landlord seriously interfered with the tenant’s proper freedom in action in exercising his right of possession, tended to deprive him of the full benefit of it, and was an invasion of his rights as tenant to remain in possession undisturbed, and so would in itself constitute a breach of covenant.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Domestic Violence

Q: I don't think I could take anymore abuse, but I know he'll go crazy if I report it.

A: I worked as a Legal Intern at the House of Ruth in Baltimore, USA, so this is something that I've had first hand experience with.

My question to you is: What's more important? Your partner getting upset or you receiving a fatal blow one day?

When it comes to solutions for domestic violence, the most important thing to understand is, if it isn't getting better, it's getting worse. Don't fool yourself! If the violent person is promising to change but never does anything about that promise, get yourself and your children out of the environment and contact your local Police Station! If the violence includes more than just verbal abuse, make sure the abuser can't find you or the children and call 999.

The Domestic Violence Act (1999) is on your side. It was designed to provide greater protection for victims of domestic violence, so use it!

A United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office document released on 29 January 2008 stated that Trinidad and Tobago has a "high level of domestic violence," while human rights reports covering 2007 describe the problem of domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago as "significant"

Domestic violence, under the Domestic Violence Act, is the physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial abuse committed by a person against a spouse, child, any other person who is a member of the household, or a dependant.

Even if you're as young as me, just by reading Sam Selvon's, A Brighter Sun (which most of us did for exams), one can see Domestic Violence even in those times when Tiger drank and abused his wife, Urmilla, so don't think it's a new phenomenon.

As time progressed and the number of incidents multiplied, Police administrators recognised that the domestic violence situation warranted their immediate attention. This was confirmed in 1991, when Trinidad and Tobago introduced legislation classifying particular offences as domestic violence. The then Commissioner of Police got actively involved in formulating directives to guide police officers in their response to reports of domestic violence.

Officers were instructed to respond promptly to all such reports. Casual dispersal of domestic violence reports was firmly discouraged. All reports of domestic violence were to be investigated and appropriate action instituted in the same manner as would be done in the investigation of any other crime.

This, unfortunately is not the current situation. The Police in Trinidad and Tobago are extremely lax with Domestic Violence incidents. In this Trinidad Express report in 2005, one of the women interviewed said she made "many many many reports." This Newsday report says that deaths quadrupled, even though Domestic Violence reports to the police increased by 60%.

I have a personal experience with this. Once when visiting a friend in Chaguanas, I saw a man cursing and kicking his door to get his wife to open after she'd managed to run inside to hide. When I contacted the Longdenville Police Post, I was calmly told, "We don't have any cars available." ABSOLUTE madness.

It is clear that the nonchalant attitude of the Police often result in the woman being killed, or in this case, the man. This is a leading case for Domestic Abuse in the UK. After initially being convicted, she was released because the courts finally realised the abuse she endured.

Protection Orders are meant to be protective barriers, but they are, in my opinion, ineffective. I personally do not recommend them because throughout the years, they've only proven to annoy the offender.

The website of Trinidad and Tobago's Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs indicates that a Domestic Violence Unit was established in May 1997 to provide counselling, information and referral services, and outreach programs to victims of domestic violence. The Unit operates a twenty-four hour domestic violence hotline (800-SAVE)-7283) and community drop-in centres, which are open one day per week (one day is COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS). In 2008, the Inter-American Development Bank approved a US$24.5 million loan to Trinidad and Tobago to help reduce crime, including domestic violence

A Domestic Violence Registry has been in the works since 2008, whose purpose is to keep a more detailed, coherent register of offenders and victims, but I'm unsure as to the progress; I don't know if it's been implemented as yet.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Becoming a Lawyer in Trinidad and Tobago

Q: I've been considering becoming a Lawyer in Trinidad, but it seems so hard and it looks like it will take me FOREVER!

A: Deciding to become an Attorney/Lawyer is a great choice! Although it may seem like a saturated field, everyday many people sign up to pursue the career. Don't think negatively!

Here's what you need to do after you browse the Legal Profession Act 1986

A. Majority of Entrants

1. Law degree from the University of the West Indies (LLB) plus, legal education certificate obtained after a two-year course at the law schools. Such persons are automatically accepted for entry as UWI LLB graduates.


2. Law degree from other recognised universities
(including an external University of London degree) plus the Legal Education Certificate (LEC). Affected persons are required to compete by examination for limited available places.

B. Others

1. Overseas qualification as a practitioner
(barrister, solicitor, attorney, etc.) plus legal education certificate (lec) obtained after a six-month course at the law schools. (no examinations for entry or to obtain lec- places have been available)


2. Admission of commonwealth attorneys of at least ten years call by order of the attorney general and minister of legal affairs. (Always for limited purpose of a specific court matter so far).A person applying to the High Court for admission to the bar is required to satisfy the court that he/she:

(a) is a Commonwealth citizen,
(b) is of good character, and either
(c) holds the qualifications prescribed by law, or
(d) is a person in respect of whom an Order has been
made under Section 15A.

By virtue of Section 15 (1A), a national of Trinidad & Tobago who-
(a) has passed the Bar Finals or the Bar Vocational Course at an institution validated by the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales, has been called to the Bar of England and Wales and has completed pupillage of at least six (6) months and is certified as such;

(b) has passed the Law Society Finals or the Legal Practice Course at an institution validated by the Law Society of England and Wales and having undertaken articles or a training contract in accordance with the Training Regulations of the Law Society of England and Wales, has been admitted to the roll of solicitors of the Supreme Court of England and Wales;

(c) has passed the Bar Vocational Course at an institution validated by the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales; or

(d) has passed the Legal Practice Course at an institution validated by the Law Society of England and Wales; and

(e) in the case of persons referred to in paragraphs (c) and (d) has obtained a certificate from the head of chambers of an attorney-at-law of not less than ten years standing, practising in Trinidad and Tobago to the effect that the national has undergone an attachment at those chambers for a continuous period of not less than six months doing work relating to the practice of Law, is deemed to hold the qualification prescribed by Law and is entitled, subject to the payment of the prescribed fees, to practise as an attorney-at-law in Trinidad and Tobago.

By virtue of Section 15A, which deals with special cases of admission, the Minister of Legal Affairs, where he considers it necessary or expedient after consultation with the Chief Justice, may by Order provide that a Commonwealth citizen who has been admitted to practise in a Commonwealth country for at least ten years, is eligible to be admitted to practise law in Trinidad and Tobago on such terms and conditions, including but not limited to the duration of the admission, as the Minister may specify in the Order.