Andrew Mitchell QC Succeeds in the Trinidad and Tobago Court of Appeal

The longrunning Trinidad and Tobago Piarco Airport extension corruption case continues. Andrew Mitchell QC advises and appears for the accused.

The Appeal Court in Trinidad ruled in favour of businessmen and United National Congress financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson in their extradition appeal against the State this week.

In delivering its eight-page ruling, the Appeal Court said: although time was a factor which the High Court making the extradition order was entitled to consider, expedience should not be used to excuse deliberation:

"Expedition, efficiency and excellence must always operate in tandem. A court exercising its powers of judicial review must, in the general scheme of things, afford itself every opportunity to ensure that it properly disposes of the arguments on a permission application".
"To the extent that the learned High Court judge felt that she was under any time constraint due to the Attorney General's indications, I am of the view that she erred. It was always open to the learned judge to grant an interim stay of the Attorney General's order for the return of the appellants and to give herself sufficient time to properly receive and digest the appellant's arguments for permission".
In accepting Andrew's submissions, the Court noted that the purpose of judicial review is to keep the Executive in check and to prevent citizens from "arbitrary, unwarranted and unlawful executive action".
"Such protections are part of the wider concept of the rule of law which lies at the foundation of any democratic society".

"I appreciate the trial judge's anxiety to have the leave application dealt with expeditiously, given the indication of the Attorney General that the appellants were due to be returned to the United States on 18th October, 2010. However, this fact is not by itself sufficient to justify any undue haste in the hearing of the permission application".
The Appeal Court added that there were deficiencies in the State's administration of justice, in particular the length of time over which criminal trials are conducted. However: "these factors cannot ever be reason, whether consciously or subconsciously, to order the extradition of our nationals to other jurisdictions where the criminal justice system is allegedly more efficient and effective".
The Court agreed that the extradition of individuals must not been seen as a 'one-way street' and the State cannot be "shirking our responsibility to our society to ensure that justice is obtained locally, by circumventing our difficulties in the administration of justice by the extradition of the appellants..."
"...Even more so when many developed countries flatly refuse to extradite their own citizens under any circumstances regardless of the consequences which may follow" the Court concluded.

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