WHY IS THE JUDICIAL REVIEW ACT IMPORTANT?


I will stay away from the continuing controversies between the current and past Attorneys-General. To coin a phrase, when elephants rumble, it’s the insects in the grass who get trampled. I will likewise stay away from the merits or otherwise of the Chief Justice’s decision ordering the Minster of Legal Affairs to bring the Act into force. It is likely to be appealed and the Court of Appeal will decide. But why is the Judicial Review Act important to the public?

There is an area of law called ‘public law.’ While much law notionally exists for the protection of the public, ‘public law’ more directly protects the rights of the citizen in his or her relations with the state and public bodies or authorities by holding them to account. The instruments used by the courts in public law are of ancient origin, initially directed against the King, and are called writs of certiorari – to quash a decision, mandamus – to order something to be done, prohibition – to prohibit an act and the lesser known, quo warranto – challenging the right to hold an office. The writ of habeas corpus – ordering the production of a body, is linked to these. They are called ‘prerogative’ remedies issued by courts on the application of citizens for ‘judicial review’ to enforce their rights against the state or public authorities. Currently, these are the only remedies available in public law.

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THE SEASON OF ADMISSIONS


Unlike any other profession, law is practiced in the glare of publicity and this is the season of admission of lawyers to practice their profession in open court. Lawyers obtain their Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad in September every year after two grueling years of study. This course of study is preceded by an additional three years in exhausting pursuit of the LL.B. degree at the University of Guyana. By October, they are ready to be admitted to practice.

The admission ceremony is a major event in the lives of newly qualified lawyers. It represents the successful culmination of five years of study and sacrifice. It allows them, albeit briefly but memorably, to thank and give public recognition of all those who helped them along the way – their parents, family members, teachers, the Almighty – and to pledge their commitment to uphold the high traditions of the Bar. There is a great sense of anticipation in a new and challenging endeavour and environment.

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