12.01.21

Constitutional Claim – Deborah Chen v The University of the West Indies

Christopher E. Kelman
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Constitutional Claim – Deborah Chen v The University of the West Indies

In this case (judgement in link below) the Supreme Court per Henry-McKenzie, J applies the well-established principle that constitutional claims should not be brought where a parallel and adequate remedy exists to invoke judicial control of administrative action. Here, a candidate for a PH.D, referred to dispute with the university to the University’s Visitor. The dispute remained unresolved some 5 years later. She brought this claim alleging breach of her constitutional right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial tribunal. The court accepted arguments that an adequate, alternative remedy was available to the Claimant/candidate in the form of judicial review for a writ of mandamus compelling the Visitor to act. This effectively would bring an end to the complaint of delay.

The court made the following observation:

“Although the right to apply to the Supreme Court for redress when a human right has been, or is likely to be contravened, is an important safeguard of those rights, the notion that whenever there is a failure by an organ of government or a public authority or public officer to comply with the law signifies the contravention of some human right guaranteed to individuals, is fallacious.”

 

See Case Judgement here

 

Keywords:
Civil Procedure Rules Part 56 - Availability of Alternative Remedy to Claimant for Constitutional Relief - Jurisdiction of Court to hear matters within Visitor’s Jurisdiction - Delay in Exercising Jurisdiction - Breach of Constitutional Right to a Fair Hearing Within a Reasonable Time before an Independent and Impartial Tribunal