The Judicial and Legal Service Commission is an executive body established under section 110 of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Judicial and Legal Service Commission is an executive body established under section 110 of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Role and Responsibility

Under section 104 of the Constitution the Judicial and Legal Service Commission has power to advise the president on the appointment of Judges, other than the Chief Justice, the acting appointment of Judges and the revocation of such acting appointments.  The President must act upon the advice he receives from the Commission on all such matters.

Under section 111 of the Constitution the Judicial and Legal Service Commission has power to appoint persons to hold or act in prescribed public offices for which legal qualifications are required; including the power to make appointments on promotion, to transfer and confirm appointments and to remove and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices.

The offices falling under the purview of the Commission are listed in the First and Second Schedules of the Judicial and Legal Service Act Chap.6:01 (as amended), Section 4 (2) of the Tax Appeal Board Act, Chap.4:50 (as amended) and Section 65A of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, Chap. 4:01.  The total number of such offices currently falling under the jurisdiction of the Commission is 300.

Regulatory Framework

To enable the discharge of its responsibilities and pending the promulgation of its own Regulations, the Commission, with the consent of the Prime Minister, has adopted, mutatis mutandis the Public Service Commission Regulations (as amended).

Limitations on the Exercise of Powers and Functions

The Constitution contains provisions to secure the independence of the Commission from both the Executive and the Legislature.  However the autonomy of the Commission is not without limits- 

Constitutional Limits

-    In the exercise of its discretion the Commission must conform with existing regulations and the rules of natural justice as set out in sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution.

-    Public officers have the right of appeal to the Public Service Appeal Board in respect of decisions of the Commission on disciplinary matters (PART 11 of the Constitution).

-    Public officers may also apply to the High Court for judicial review of any decision of the Commission

-    Section 129 provides that the Commission can only regulate its procedures with the consent of the Prime Minister.

-    Section 111 (2) & (3) provides that the Commission consult with the Prime Minister before it makes an appointment to the offices of Solicitor General, Chief Parliamentary       Counsel, director of Public Prosecutions, Registrar General or Chief State Solicitor.

-    Section 128 provides that the Commission must consult with the relevant Commission before appointing any officer from another Service.

-    Constitution (Amendment) Act #43 of 2000 repealed section 129 of the Constitution (the ouster clause) which previously significantly limited the power of the court to           enquire into.

New Legislation

The Integrity in Public Life Act No. 83/2000 was amended by Act #88/2000 to bring Judges and Magistrates appointed by the Commission under its jurisdiction.

The Freedom of Information Act No.26 of 1999 gives members of the public a general right (with exceptions) of access to official documents in the custody of public authorities. Public authorities, as defined in the Act, include a Service Commission.

Composition of the Commission

Section 110 of the Constitution provides that the members of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission shall be:

a)    The Chief Justice who shall be the Chairman
b)    The Chairman of the Public Service Commission (ex-officio member)
c)    Such other members as may be appointed by the president, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition- 
       -    one (1) from among persons who hold or have held office as a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the         Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court; and
       -    two (2) from among persons with legal qualifications, at least one of whom is not in active practice as such, after the President has consulted with such         organizations, if any, as he thinks fit.

The members at c) are usually appointed for three year terms.

The membership of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission comprises:
  
The Honourable, The Chief Justice Mr. Justice Ivor Archie  - Chairman

Ms. Maureen Manchouck  - Member & Chairman, Public Service Commission

Mr. Ernest Koylass, SC  - Member

Madam Justice Charmaine Pemberton  - Member

Ms. Nicole Beaubrun-Toby  - Member