Saturday, Feb 22, 2020
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Parties argue issue of costs in Grant-Bethell case

A judge will soon decide who pays for a legal action brought by former deputy director of public prosecutions Cheryl Grant-Bethell challenging the procedure used to determine her suitability to head the department of public prosecutions.

The Judicial and Legal Services Commission(JLSC)decided Grant-Bethell was not fit for the job because of an unfavorable report it received from the Security Intelligence Branch(SIB)of the police force.

The commission did not give Grant-Bethell the opportunity to defend herself against the allegations contained in the report.

However, it decided to recommend that Grant-Bethell be transferred from the Office of the Attorney General(OAG)and be”promoted”to deputy law reform and review commissioner.

Two weeks ago, Senior Supreme Court Justice Jon Isaacs said that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission used a flawed process in reviewing Grant-Bethell’s application for the position. However, he declined to order that she remain in the Office of the Attorney General because the attorney general has the constitutional right to permit whomever he chose to prosecute on his behalf and he had already demonstrated a disinclination for her to practice.

It was for this reason that Grant’Bethell’s lawyer, Wayne Munroe, said that she ought to be awarded costs for the action.

Munroe suggested that the court could either order that the JLSC and OAG share the costs or that the JLSC pay the costs without making an order with respect to the Office of the Attorney General or that the JLSC pay the costs of the Office of the Attorney General.

However, lawyers for the JLSC and OAG disagreed with this position, arguing that Grant-Bethell should be responsible for the legal fees because her lawsuit failed.

Thomas Evans, QC, who represented the commission, and Brian Simms, QC, who represented the OAG, said any costs awarded to Grant-Bethell would come from the public purse, but they said Grant-Bethell’s court action was mainly a private one.

Evans said,”This is a case where, quite plainly, the private interest of the applicant outweighs the public interest.”

He said that costs with respect to the JLSC should be reduced by 25 percent based on the court’s finding regarding the body.

Simms said the OAG did not participate in the decision-making process, adding that the court made no finding of misconduct against the AG.

Justice Isaacs adjourned to consider the arguments and said a decision would be made soon.

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