The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (“LATT”) refers to recent articles in the news media commenting on the Honourable, Mr. Justice Ventour’s appointment to sit on the Integrity Commission by His Excellency.
It has been said, inter alia, that by virtue of the fact that Mr. Justice Ventour sits on a commission with a remit to make recommendations in respect of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago that he is a “person in public life” and/or a “person exercising a public function” and therefore cannot sit on the Integrity Commission.
LATT does not support this view. Moreover, Section 2 of the Integrity in Public Life Act, Chap. 22:01, defines both the aforementioned phrases.
“Persons in public life” are expressly identified as Members of the House of Representatives, Ministers of Government, Parliamentary Secretaries, Members of the Tobago House of Assembly, Members of Municipalities, Members of Local Government Authorities, Senators, Judges and Magistrates appointed by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, Members of the Boards of all Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises including those Bodies in which the State has a controlling interest, Permanent Secretaries and Chief Technical Officers.
“Persons exercising a public functions” are persons holding office under the Public Service, Judicial and Legal Service, Police Service, Teaching Service and Statutory Authorities’ Service Commission, as well as members of the Diplomatic Service and Advisers to the Government.
The establishment of an ad hoc commission is not a new concept in Trinidad and Tobago. If Parliament, when legislating on the Integrity Commission, wished to capture the members of such commissions in either of the aforementioned classes it would have done so by express inclusion. Neither is embraced in the previously mentioned definitions. Consequently, it is LATT’s view that Mr. Justice Ventour clearly does not fall in either of these classes and is not barred from selection to sit on the Integrity Commission.
Seenath Jairam S.C
Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago
12th July 2013