Alleyne and Others v Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
CourtPrivy Council
JudgeLord Toulson
Judgment Date21 January 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] UKPC 3
Docket NumberAppeal No 0052 of 2012
Date21 January 2015

[2015] UKPC 3

Privy Council

From the Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago

before

Lady Hale

Lord Wilson

Lord Reed

Lord Toulson

Sir Patrick Coghlin

Appeal No 0052 of 2012

Alleyne and others
(Appellants)
and
The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago
(Respondent)

Appellants

Peter Knox QC Ramesh Maharaj SC Robert Strang

(Instructed by MA Law (Solicitors) LLP)

Respondent

Alan Newman QC Anand Beharrylal

(Instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP)

Heard on 13 October 2014

Lord Toulson
Introduction
1

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has a national police service and a number of municipal police services. The appellants are 153 municipal police officers ("MPOs") from the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando and the boroughs of Arima and Point Fortin. They are employed by their city or borough corporation. The corporations are established and governed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1990. They also fall within the provisions of the Statutory Authorities Act 1966.

2

As a group, the appellants comprise most of the Republic's MPOs. They complain that for over a decade they have unjustifiably been treated less favourably than regular police officers ("RPOs") particularly in terms of their remuneration. They claim that their rights under the Constitution have been violated. They rely on the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law (section 4(b)); and on the right, subject to qualifications which are not presently material, to such procedural provisions as are necessary for the purpose of giving effect and protection to their constitutional rights and freedoms (section 5(2)(h)).

The legislation
3

The national police service is governed by the Police Service Act 2006, the Police Service Regulations (made under section 78 of the Act) and the Police Service Commission Regulations (made under the 1962 Constitution, but now deemed to have been made under section 129 of the present Constitution). These provide a comprehensive code for the organisation and administration of the police service, including the appointment and promotion of officers, disciplinary procedure, salaries and allowances. Part VII of the Act and Part XIV of the Police Service Regulations contain provisions about police service associations. RPOs are not permitted to join a trade union, but they are permitted to form associations, which are to be recognised by the Minister of Finance as appropriate associations for consultation about remuneration and terms and conditions of employment.

4

Municipal police services are now governed by Part III of the Municipal Corporations Act 1990.

5

Section 60 provides:

"The Commission may make Regulations providing for the classification of officers in a Municipal Police Service, including qualifications, duties and remuneration and providing generally for the discipline, good order and government of the Municipal Police Services and until such Regulations are made hereunder, Regulations made under the Police Service Act, insofar as the Commission deems them applicable to any matter concerning Municipal Police Services or Municipal Police Officers, shall apply mutatis mutandis."

6

The Commission is defined in section 2 as meaning the Statutory Authorities' Service Commission ("SASC") established under the Statutory Authorities Act.

7

The use of the word "may" in section 60 is readily understandable, because the section provides alternatives. The Commission "may" make regulations and in the interim it "may" apply the Police Service Regulations, insofar as it deems them appropriate. It was obviously envisaged that by one means or the other there should be regulations in place for municipal police services covering the matters identified in the section. At the time of the hearing of this appeal, the Commission had neither made any regulations under section 60 nor deemed any part of the Police Service Regulations to be applicable to municipal police services and MPOs. They remained in a regulatory limbo. This is part of the appellants' grievance.

8

As previously noted, the Police Service Regulations contain provisions for the recognition of a police service association with rights of consultation over the remuneration of RPOs. If after consultation the association and the Minister of Finance are unable to reach agreement, the Police Service Act provides a dispute resolution scheme (sections 30–32). The dispute must be referred to an independent Special Tribunal established under the Civil Service Act. In reaching its award the Special Tribunal is required to be guided by the considerations set out in section 20(2)(a) to (f) of the Industrial Relations Act 1972. These include the necessity to maintain and improve the standard of living of workers. An award of the Special Tribunal is final.

9

For MPOs, the Statutory Authorities Act envisages a parallel scheme for resolving pay disputes, involving a procedural route which is different in detail but serves a similar purpose. Section 14 provides for the President to establish a Personnel Organisation, headed by a Chief Personnel Officer, for the purpose of performing functions given to it under the Act; and that until it is established the Personnel Department established under the Civil Service Act shall be responsible for those functions. The functions include conducting negotiations over remuneration and terms and conditions of employment with recognised associations of municipal employees. Section 22 provides for disputes between the Chief Personnel Officer and a recognised association to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act. Part V of that Act contains a dispute procedure, under which the final decision rests with the Industrial Court.

10

Section 26 of the Statutory Authorities Act provides that the President may make regulations setting out the conditions to be satisfied and the procedure to be adopted for the recognition by a statutory authority of existing or new associations of employees. No such regulations had been made at the time of the hearing of this appeal.

11

The appellants are members of municipal police associations formed to represent the interests of MPOs serving in their respective municipalities. They have conducted or tried to have negotiations with the government, but because the regulations envisaged by section 26 of the Statutory Authorities Act had not been made, they did not have statutory recognition under the Act and so they did not have a right to the statutory scheme of consultation and dispute resolution. Consequently MPOs had no right of access to the Industrial Court through their representative organisations; and they had no right of access to the court as individuals, because RPOs and MPOs are excluded by section 2(3)(b) of the Act from the definition of a "worker".

The MPOs' complaints
12

The absence of a statutory scheme for the regulation of the municipal police services, and the lack of any right of access to an independent tribunal by MPOs through their police associations for the determination of pay disputes, caused considerable concern to the appellants, particularly in the light of events since 2000.

13

Until 2000 MPOs were paid the same basic salary as RPOs. Other allowances paid to MPOs, such as for food and housing, were about 60% of the equivalent allowances paid to RPOs. In 2000, as a result of a job evaluation exercise, the Ministry of Finance agreed to an increase in the salaries of RPOs by incorporating a new service allowance into the basic salary. No such job evaluation has been carried out in relation to the municipal police services, and there has continued to be a significant differential between the basic salaries of RPOs and MPOs. By way of illustration, the basic salary of a corporal in the municipal services is $325 per month less than a corporal in the regular service, and for an assistant superintendent the differential is $500 per month.

14

In August 2001 the Chief Personnel Officer promised MPOs that a similar job evaluation would be carried out in relation to municipal police services by January 2002, but this did not happen. Representatives of the MPOs have written on repeated occasions to the government pressing their case, but without any effective response. On 18 June 2003 a minister in the Ministry of Finance wrote to Mr Neville Robinson, the president of the Port of Spain municipal police association, informing him that their concerns had been referred to the chief personnel office to determine a possible solution, but nothing more happened. On 4 September 2003 a letter before action was sent to the Prime Minister by 53 MPOs, but it failed to elicit a substantive response, and these proceedings were issued by a notice of motion dated 13 November 2003.

15

In the notice of motion the MPOs advanced three main complaints. They complained that the state had failed to equalise their salaries and associated benefits with those of RPOs (the equal pay complaint). They complained that no regulations had been made under section 60 of the Municipal Corporations Act for the classification of officers in the municipal police services or for the promotion of MPOs, which were dealt with on an ad hoc basis, and that this promoted unfairness, inequality of treatment and arbitrariness (the lack of service regulations complaint). And they complained that no regulations had been made under the Statutory Authorities Act enabling recognition of their associations for the purpose of representing them (the lack of equal right to representation complaint). They contended that in all these respects their constitutional rights to equality before the law had been violated.

16

The notice of motion was supported by affidavits sworn by all the applicants. For the purposes of this appeal, the parties have sensibly agreed that the...

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