Success in Privy Council appeal on behalf of Caribbean pro bono clients

As part of our commitment to pro bono work, Herbert Smith represents clients from various Caribbean jurisdictions before the Privy Council in the UK, which remains the ultimate appellate court for many Caribbean and Commonwealth countries. On 15 February, the Privy Council granted an appeal in one of our Caribbean cases, which was run by Emily Lew and Anita Phillips.

The appeal to the Privy Council concerned proceedings launched in Trinidad and Tobago alleging that our clients’ constitutional rights had been breached. Our clients had been convicted of murder in Trinidad and Tobago in 1986 when they were both under the age of 18. At that time, juvenile murderers were sentenced to detention “at the State’s pleasure” and our clients served twenty years in prison. However, no reviews of their detention were undertaken until they had been in prison for nineteen years.

The Privy Council held that the failure to review our clients’ sentences and detention while they were imprisoned amounted to a breach of their fundamental rights under the Trinidad and Tobago constitution. The Privy Council also ordered that the question of whether our clients were entitled to any damages by way of redress should be assessed by the High Court in Trinidad and Tobago.

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