CCJ Reserves Ruling On Preliminary Arguments In David Bain Case

A five (5) member panel of Judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Tuesday (May 7th)  reserved judgment on certain preliminary legal issues in the case brought by Grenadian David Bain against the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

On October 9th, 2018, Bain applied for leave to bring proceedings against the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for breach of his freedom of movement rights under the Revised Treaty of Chaguramas regarding his December 4th, 2017 denial of entry there  to attend the wedding of a family member and to enjoy Trinidad for a few days.  At a Case Management hearing of the matter on November 20th, 2018, he  became the first Grenadian to be granted leave to commence proceedings in the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ,  which he instituted on November 27th, 2018.

At another Case Management conference on January 30th, 2019 the court identified three (3) preliminary points to be addressed by the parties based on the Defence to Bain’s  claim filed by the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago:

  1. i) Whether Bain waived his rights to be treated as a Caribbean Community national by the immigration authorities of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago on his presentation of a completed immigration form acknowledging citizenship of the United States of America along with a valid United States of America passport and thereby invoking citizenship of the United States of America;
  2. ii) Whether it would make a difference in the establishment of any such waiver if Bain’s disclosure of his Grenadian citizenship occurred before or after the decision was made by the immigration authorities to deny him entry into Trinidad & Tobago.

iii)        Whether the presentation by Bain of his Grenada National Identification Card and his Driver’s Licence was sufficient to conclusively determine his Grenadian citizenship and thereby entitle him to be treated by the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago as a national of a Caribbean Community member state.

The Court also invited both the State of Grenada and the CARICOM Secretariat to make submissions in the matter.

At Tuesday’s hearing, and in written submissions prior, both the CARICOM Secretariat and the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago submitted that the CARICOM passport, save for Montserrat and Haiti, is the only current appropriate document for CARICOM nationals to invoke the right to freedom of movement. When Bain entered Trinidad & Tobago in December 2017 he was travelling on his US Passport.

Bain’s Attorneys, on the other hand, submitted that he (Bain) had produced sufficient evidence to the Trinidad Immigration authorities to establish his Grenadian nationality – being a dual citizen of both Grenada and the United States – including his Grenadian Driver’s Licence and his Grenadian Voter ID Card. Bain’s US passport  also reflected his place of birth as Grenada.

It was further submitted on behalf of Bain that once he established he was a Grenadian citizen he was entitled to be treated by the Trinidad immigration authorities as a CARICOM national.

Tuesday’s hearing was presided over by CCJ President  Adrian Saunders and included Justices Jacob Wit David Hayton, Winston Anderson and Andrew Burgess.

Attorneys involved in Tuesday’s hearing included  Ruggles Ferguson and Patrick Superville of  Ciboney Chambers  for the Applicant Bain; Rishi  Dass, Sasha Sukhram and Sean Julien for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago  ; and Dr Corlita Babb-Schaefer and Sandra Bart for  the CARICOM Secretariat.

The CCJ, in its Original Jurisdiction, has exclusive authority to interpret and apply the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which makes provision for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

CSME embraces free movement of CARICOM nationals.