19th Apr 2021

Peter Knox QC Instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP for the respondant.

Summary of the legal issues

This appeal arises from procedure in Jamaica consequent upon a request by the Kingdom of the Netherlands for mutual legal assistance under the Mutual Assistance (Criminal Matters) Act 1995 (“MACMA”), asking for evidence to be taken from the appellants on oath, and by a judge in court. The taking of such evidence was authorised under section 20 of MACMA. Section 16(3) of the Constitution of Jamaica provides that “All proceedings of every court” shall be held in public. In an agreed statement of facts and issues, the parties stated that determination of the issues arising in the case required the Board to address the following questions:

  1. Are section 20 proceedings under MACMA “proceedings” within the meaning of section 16(3) of the Constitution of Jamaica?
  2. In any event, even if they are not, are such “proceedings” subject to the common law “open justice” principle referred to by the Court of Appeal?
  3. Did the judge have a discretion to decide that the taking of evidence from the appellants should be conducted in public?
  4. If so (re (above 3)), did the Court of Appeal err in law or otherwise go materially wrong in upholding the judge’s exercise of his discretion?

Click here to read this judgment


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