Sandra Juman v The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago and another (Trinidad and Tobago)

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
JudgeLord Toulson
Judgment Date20 February 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] UKPC 3
CourtPrivy Council
Docket NumberAppeal No 0014 of 2014
Date20 February 2017
Sandra Juman
(Appellant)
and
The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago and another
(Respondents) (Trinidad and Tobago)

[2017] UKPC 3

before

Lord Mance

Lord Reed

Lord Hughes

Lord Hodge

Lord Toulson

Appeal No 0014 of 2014

Privy Council

From the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Appellant

James Badenoch QC

Ted Roopnarine

Suzanne Lambert

Prakash Ramadhar

Mickey Dindial

(Instructed by Gowling WLG (UK) LLP (London))

Respondents

Tom Richards

(Instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP)

Heard on 1 December 2016

Lord Toulson
1

On 1 October 1998 the appellant, Ms Sandra Juman, was arrested with others by the first respondent, Police Constable Abbott, at premises in Pond Street, La Romain, Trinidad, on suspicion of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition found there. She and the others arrested were taken to the San Fernando Police Station and charged by the first respondent with having in their possession two firearms and one round of ammunition without a licence, contrary to section 6(1) of the Firearms Act, Chapter 16.01 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago.

2

The appellant and the others were kept in custody overnight and taken next day before a magistrate, who ordered her release on bail. After about 20 appearances at court the case was tried on 10 August 2000 and the charges against the appellant were dismissed at the close of the prosecution's evidence on a submission of no case to answer.

3

On 18 April 2001 the appellant began civil proceedings against PC Abbott and the Attorney General, the second respondent, as vicariously liable for the conduct of PC Abbott, on a variety of grounds including malicious prosecution. Over seven years later the action was tried by Shah J. The evidence was heard on 20 October 2008 and submissions were made on 4 December 2008, after which the judge delivered an immediate oral judgment. He upheld her claim for false imprisonment, for which he awarded damages of $17,000, but dismissed her claim for malicious prosecution. The judge found that he was satisfied on the evidence that the first respondent acted with reasonable and probable cause, and without malice, in charging the appellant. It is well established that in order to succeed in a claim of malicious prosecution the claimant must establish that the defendant acted both (a) without reasonable and probable cause and (b) maliciously, as those expressions have been interpreted.

4

Each side appealed against different aspects of the judgment. The appeal was first heard on 4 May 2012 before Kangaloo, Narine and Smith JJA and was adjourned part heard for further submission. Unfortunately Kangaloo JA died, and the appeal was re-heard on 23 May 2013 before Mendonca, Smith and Rajnauth- Lee JJA. At the rehearing the only issue pursued was the appellant's appeal against the dismissal of her claim for malicious prosecution. At the close of the arguments the court dismissed Ms Juman's appeal. Rajnauth- Lee JA gave brief oral reasons, prefaced by stating that, if it became necessary, the court would reduce its reasons into writing with amplification.

5

On 11 November 2013 the appellant obtained final leave to appeal as of right to the Board. On 20 December 2013 the Court of Appeal gave a fuller written statement of its reasons for dismissing the appeal, delivered by Rajnauth- Lee JA. The appellant seeks to challenge the findings of the trial judge and the Court of Appeal on the existence of reasonable and probable cause and absence of malice.

Firearms Act
6

Part 1 of the Act creates various offences, including unlicensed possession of a firearm or ammunition. Section 5(2) provided at the material time:

"In any prosecution for an offence under this Part … a person who is proved to have had in his possession or under his control anything whatsoever in or on which is found any firearm or ammunition shall, until the contrary is proved, be deemed to have been in possession of such firearm or ammunition."

The search of the premises
7

The first respondent was told by an informer that a man called Steve Seebaran had arms and ammunition at the premises. He obtained a warrant to search the premises. The search was carried out by the first respondent and three other police officers. Apart from the police, there were six people present, including Mr Seebaran and the appellant. The evidence of the first respondent in the criminal and civil proceedings was that he asked if they all lived on the premises and they all said that they did. He then told them that the police were going to carry out a search. During the search the appellant was assisted by someone else because she is blind, as the first respondent realised by the end of the search. The building was a two storey wooden structure with the two floors connected by an external staircase. The appellant was downstairs at the time of the arrival of the police. The firearms and ammunition were found in a bag in a downstairs living room. Mr Seebaran immediately said that they were his and that he had brought them to the premises. The six people were all arrested and taken to the police station, where they were charged. Mr Seebaran pleaded guilty on his first appearance before a magistrate.

Shah J's findings
8

The first respondent said in his witness statement, at para 8, that his reasons for charging the appellant were that 1) he found her in occupation of the premises, where she admitted that she lived, and 2) it was his understanding of the Firearms Act that it was sufficient to prove that a person occupied premises where arms or ammunition were found for the court to be able to find that the person was in possession of them. In his evidence in the criminal proceedings the first respondent had spoken of the premises having an upstairs and downstairs apartment, but in his evidence in the civil action he said that nobody had suggested, and he did not believe, that they were separate and independent residences. There was only one kitchen area, which was upstairs, and likewise there was only one dining area, which was upstairs. The appellant's case was that the two floors were separate premises and that she occupied only the upstairs apartment, but the judge said that after hearing the evidence in its entirety he had come to the "inescapable conclusion that both the upstairs and downstairs of this house constituted one household." He added that those who appreciated the subtleties that underpin the culture of Trinidad and...

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