Attorneys for more than 60 students from eight secondary schools in Barbados will be filing a challenge in the Court of Appeal as early as next week after losing their judicial review case against the regional examination body in the High Court on Wednesday.
Madam Justice Michelle Weekes struck out the claim of the students and their parents who were seeking a judicial review of the process of the 2020 Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations and those pending for 2021.
Attorney for the claimants Liesel Weekes indicated Thursday that she is not convinced that the local High Court was altogether correct in its decision to throw out her clients’ case.
“We will be appealing the decision. We are not convinced of the bases on which the court would have made certain of its orders yesterday and so, we think that those may present some basis for us to seek a resolution at the higher court,” Weekes told Barbados TODAY while at the same time praising the judge for having disposed of the matter as quickly as she did.
“We are still awaiting the issue of costs. Apparently, the court made no order in relation to the costs of the application and who should bear those costs, and has actually reserved the hearing on submissions of costs,” the attorney for the claimants revealed.
“I have to admit that I am curious to know what the CXC and the Government, what their position is going to be on that issue, bearing in mind that the claimants are age 16 to 18 years old, unemployed – and actually the certification that they seek en route to be employable or en route to entrepreneurship where they can in fact earn, it will be interesting to hear what the Government’s position is and the CXC’s position,” Weekes declared.
She said while her clients await notification on a date for a hearing on costs, that did not preclude them from proceeding to the Court of Appeal to challenge the substantive orders which the High Court made on the applications of the Government and the CXC yesterday.
Justice Weekes held that the Barbados-based regional examination body has by law immunity from suit and all legal processes.
She also ruled that the certificate of the Minister of Foreign Affairs certifying the immunity of CXC was conclusive as provided by the legislation of such immunity. This means that the court has no jurisdiction to review the actions of the council as it relates to its inter-jurisdictional obligations in the administration of the regional exams.
Justice Weekes further held that CXC qualifies as an inter-governmental organisation and is not an authority of the Government of Barbados.
As such, CXC is not an authority as contemplated by the Administrative Justice Act of Barbados.
The court also struck out the claim against Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw and Attorney General Dale Marshall – the second and third defendants respectively.
The students and parents wanted the court to declare that the examination process and means of assessment for the academic year 2020-21 in relation to CSEC and CAPE level examinations to be implemented as announced on 26 May 2021 and endorsed by the Ministry of Education were irrational, unreasonable and therefore unlawful.
The group was also seeking a declaration that the examination and assessment process implemented in relation to the students by the CXC for both CAPE and CSEC level tests for the 2019-2020 academic year was irrational and unreasonable and therefore unlawful.
The claimants wanted the judge to make a third declaration that the council’s decision in the prevailing circumstances to implement the examination and assessment process for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years was, and is manifestly unreasonable and an abuse of discretion/authority.
They were also asking for an Order of Certiorari to quash the final grades issued to the affected class of persons represented in this action by the CXC for the June 2020 examination.; an order of mandamus mandating that the regional body review the claimants’ submissions for the July/August 2020 examinations applying a methodology that is fair, transparent and reasonable in all of the prevailing circumstances; and an injunction restraining the CXC whether by itself and/or its agents or otherwise from destroying all 2020 examination scripts until the final determination of this matter.
The claimants wanted, as well, an injunction restraining the CXC from administering the 2021 examinations as proposed and as announced on the 26th day of May 2021 and an Order of Mandamus mandating that the CXC review and amend the assessment process for the 2021 examinations prior to administering the same.
The aggrieved students and parents had also asked the court for damages, costs to be paid by the council, the Ministry of Education and the Attorney General’s Office whether jointly or severally and such further and/or other relief as may be deemed fit.
Persistent calls to the telephone of students’ advocate Paula Ann Moore went unanswered and Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw was in Cabinet and Chief Executive Officer of CXC Dr Wayne Wesley was in a meeting.