AG: PM to address local government issues on Wednesday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley – File photo – SUREASH CHOLAI

ATTORNEY General Reginald Armour, SC, says all questions about local government matters arising out of the May 18 judgment of the Privy Council, including local government elections, will be answered by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.Armour made these comments in response to questions on local government from Independent Senator Paul Richards and Opposition Senator Wade Mark in the Senate on Tuesday. In its judgment, the Privy Council said the extension of the life of local government bodies by a year was unlawful.But the Privy Council did not deem the extension a constitutional breach or as depriving people of the right to vote.Responding to Richards’ question about the status of local government councillors and aldermen after the judgment, Armour said, “This matter will be addressed tomorrow in the House of Representatives by the Honourable Prime Minister.”

Richards asked Armour if Government was concerned whether decisions and actions taken by councillors and aldermen before the judgment were lawful.

Armour said under the De Facto Officers’ Doctrine, dating back to the 1730s, their actions were lawful.”That doctrine establishes there is validity in the actions of the officers who were duly elected and continued to be duly elected until the decision of the Privy Council.”

He told Richards and other senators, “There is no cause for concern.”

In response to Mark’s question on the legality of local government corporations’ actions between December 2, 2022 (when the extension began) to May 18 (the date of the Privy Council judgment that the extension was unlawful), Armour said the same doctrine legitimises those actions within that period.

He rejected Mark’s assertion that the Government was perpetuating an illegality by not acting in accordance with the judgment.

Armour reiterated that Government accepted the judgment, always follows the law and Dr Rowley will address all matters pertaining to the judgment in the House on Wednesday.