Gov’t Attempts To Settle DPP Sinanan’s Lawsuit LK Hewlett Story Updated: September 15th 2015 at 10:51 am Dr. Francis Alexis QC for DPP Sinanan and SC Douglas Mendes for AG Byron fail to negotiate a settlement during Monday’s court hearing
Yesterday’s (Sept 14) start of the civil case brought against the Attorney General by Director of Public Prosecutions Travers Sinanan turned into a settlement negotiation prompted by the government side. Sinanan, a Trinidad native who worked as a Crown Prosecutor in the UK, was hired by the former administration in July 2013 under a two-year contract. He attempted to have his employment extended, however the new government, represented by Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr. made a decision not to. When Sinanan’s contract expired July 31, he was asked to leave office, but instead remained for almost two weeks and then sued AG Byron. Sinanan claimed Byron breached the Constitution of the Federation by “unlawfully attempting to terminate” his appointment as DPP and that the Attorney General “made unlawful attempts to dictate, control, and/or usurp the work of the DPP”. According to Sinanan, the constitution allows for him to remain the DPP until he is sixty years old. At yesterday’s court proceedings Sinanan was represented by Grenadian constitutional attorney Dr. Francis Alexis QC, along with Delano Bart QC, Sylvester Anthony and Angelina Sookoo. Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, along with Talibah Byron, Solicitor General Simone Thompson-Bullen, and Maclure Taylor represented the Attorney General. During a two-hour break at the start of the ‘trial’ Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, AG Byron, Mendes SC and Dr. Alexis QC were seen in serious discussion inside the courtroom. When Justice Marlene Carter returned to the bench, Mendes said based on discussion with opposing counsel, he was requesting “more time” and asked that they be given until 3:30pm to arrive at a position going forward. Justice Carter told the attorneys by that time “we determine how we go forward. Please let’s be very clear on what we intend to do,” she said. When Court resumed the attorneys indicated they had attempted to negotiate a settlement however could not come to mutually agreeable terms. Justice Carter set a new trial date for September 21, with submissions having to be filed by Friday (Sept 18). Speaking with the media, AG Byron explained why the government had backed down after asserting that Sinanan’s case had no merit since the suit was filed in August. He disputed the notion that instigating a settlement offer was not a reflection of the strength or weakness of his case, saying it was a matter of coming to a swifter resolution. “It was made without prejudice, in discussion between the two senior counsels, to see if there could be some common ground as to having this matter resolved. “We are very confident about our case…We do need to have the matter resolved as quickly as possible, in the public interest, in relation to the administration of justice, especially when it comes to our criminal justice system,” he said. The next upcoming criminal assizes begins Sept 22. The Attorney General pointed out that there is still time for both sides to come to a financial settlement before the matter comes up for trial once again. He declined giving any figures. According to Anthony, Sinanan remains the DPP until the matter is settled, whether inter partes or by adjudication.