Fourteen police officers will get a second chance at challenging their omission from a promotions list five years ago.
After a near one-hour sitting this morning, the Court of Appeal agreed to hear the case of the officers who are challenging High Court Judge Margaret Reifer’s decision on December 23 last year to dismiss their case.
Through their attorney Ralph Thorne, QC, the officers had sued the Police Commissioner, Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Attorney General, after the PSC rejected the list submitted by then Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin in 2012, and added its own list of names.
Thorne had argued that the PSC had violated the promotions rules and regulations.
After lawyers for the police officers, the PSC and the Attorney General and police chief briefly addressed the three-member panel on timelines for a review of the High Court ruling, Chairman of the Appellate Court Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson announced March 22 as the date for hearing the appeal.
Sir Marston also instructed the attorneys to file and serve their written arguments by February 7, while Deputy Solicitor General Donna Brathwaite, who appeared on behalf of the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General; and Tariq Khan, who represents the PSC, were asked to file and serve their written responses by March 8.
In his opening address, Thorne sought to impress on the judges that hearing of the appeal should be expedited because the careers of the 14 police officers were at stake, having already been on hold for five years.
The Queen’s Counsel argued the officers’ current state of affairs could be attributed to an administrative act committed by the Police Service Commission, “which cannot be justified in law”.
“We feel that this court therefore, should be asked to pronounce on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the act of removing their names in a way or in the manner they [PSC] did,” the senior lawyer said, stressing the only just way to deal with the PSC’s action was through an expedited hearing, to which both Brathwaite and Khan agreed.
Thorne told the court his clients had intended to ask for a stay of promotions, but this would now be redundant because of the recent promotion of close to 60 officers.
Thorne is basing his appeal on 18 grounds, including that the judge erred in law in finding that the PSC had not contravened the law when it removed the names of the 14 officers from the list.
The applicants also claimed that the judge erred in law when she failed to consider the Police (Promotion) Regulations which require the commission to consult the Commissioner of Police if it required any further information relating to recommendations for promotion.