Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Anti smelter movement goes to court

The courtroom on Tuesday 31st July was really packed. Justice Peter Jamadar had made arrangements for this larger courtroom for this particular day because he was expecting public interest to be high. All the seats in the public gallery were filled. The lawyers section was occupied by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj representing the litigants Maxim Harris, a resident of La Brea, and the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Rights Association; by Rishi Dass, Nyree Alphonso, and Judy Kublalsingh representing the litigants, the Smelta Karavan (Fyard Hosein SC is still in England and Nicole Mohammed was ill); and by Ramkissoon et al representing the litigants PURE (anenvironmental group from the La Brea area), and RAG, the Rights Action Group. On the defendants side there were lawyers for the EMA, for the National Energy Corporation and Alutrint, and the Attorney General seeking to represent the interests
of the State. Proceedings began at 9:00 am.There were four basic issues facing the court:
Should the Attorney General, represented by Martineau and Young, be
granted leave to intervene in the case to represent the “public
Seeing that there were three sets of litigants, should the court allow
them all to participate in the application for leave, or should the
court eliminate one or two?
Were the three sets of litigants, all filing for judicial review of the

EMA’s decision to grant a certificate of environmental clearance to
Alutrint, “oppressive” on the EMA? The EMA has tried to argue that the
weight of three simultaneous actions was “oppressive”.
What should the timelines for submissions of affidavits, applications
etc, and for the date for the hearing of leave, be? Remember“leave”
has to be granted by the Court before the substantive matter is heard.

The judge sought the views of all the litigants on the matter of the Attorney General joining the matter. The litigants decided that the Attorney General could join, but that the matter of the AG’s possible claim for costs, in the event that the defendants won the case, had to be rectified.

The judge was of the view that all three litigants had direct interest
in the matter. His tentative direction was for the case to be “rolled up”, meaning that all three could join forces, but an order of presentation of points had to be worked out; in other words, which team would present first, second, third. There was general concurrence on “rolling up” by all three teams of litigants.

The EMA was given a deadline by which to file their claim for “oppressiveness” and the litigants were give dates by which reply to these claims.

It was decided, after much ado [because if Peake could be here then
Martineau would not be here and if he were here then Mendes would not
be here, etc etc] that the hearing for leave would be done on the 11th
-13th September. From what I gather, the decision of the court to hear
or not hear the case will be based on, first, the argue-ability of the
matter, and on, second, the standing of the litigating parties.

It was decided that the hearing would first be heard, and on the same
three days, the matter of standing would be finally ironed out.

NOTE: RL Maharaj decided to drop his constitutional motion in respect of
the Alutrint matter. He would pursue only the judicial review action.
He did not give a clear reason for doing so.

So, it is RL Maharaj, Fyard Hosein, Ramkissoon VS Martineau, Peake,
Mendes and Quamina. Justice Jamadar is keen to hear the case. He is
sensitive to the historical importance of this case. We will need to
pack his court. Please prepare your court wear for the 11th to the 13th

September, 9 o’clock at the San Fernando High Court.

Much respect to those who have shown support on this historic matter,
the outcome of which will determine our future development in the 21st

Wayne Kublalsingh


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