The Prosecution's Right to Appeal in Trinidad and Tobago: The State V Boyce
15 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2007
Date Written: June 2006
There is no right of appeal against a verdict of a court or jury at common law. The Court of Kings Bench had the prerogative power to supervise other tribunals and the prerogative writs of certiorari, mandamus and prohibition gave that court an appellate-like function. Also, in English law there was a writ of error which was an order for the production of the records of an inferior court on the allegations that the record on its face would show the proceedings to have been erroneous and should thus be quashed, but the current appellate systems in common law jurisdictions are gifts of legislatures and not the common law.
A new legislative provision in Trinidad and Tobago now provides for the prosecution appealing from the decision of a trial judge in limited cases. A recent decision of the Privy Council has clarified the full measure of that legislation. That case, The State v Boyce, adds to the jurisprudence on the constitutional law of due process in the Commonwealth Caribbean, and it clarified the prosecution's right in certain circumstances to appeal a ruling of the trial judge. In reaffirming the judgment of Thomas v Baptiste the Judicial Committee disparaged a tendency that crept into the construction of Commonwealth Caribbean Constitutions, which was to gloss the fundamental rights provisions with reference to the prior common law. In Thomas v Baptiste Lord Millett had made the point that the Constitution was 'not a synonym for common law or statute.' The State v Boyce should bring the interpretation of Commonwealth Caribbean Constitutions back to the posture advocated by Lord Wilberforce in Minister of Home Affairs and another v Fisher and another.
Keywords: constitutional law, due process, right to appeal, Commonwealth Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, the State v Boyce, Judicial Committee, Privy Council, Supreme Court, Judicature Act, expert evidence, fundamental rights, constitution, common law
JEL Classification: K1, K14, K19, K4, K40, K41, K42, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation