30th May 2024


Thomas Roe KC Instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP (London) for the Appellant

Case summary


1. Whether the Special Tribunal is a superior court of record.

2. Whether decisions of the Special Tribunal are amenable to the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court; and, if so, on what grounds and in what circumstances they may be reviewed.

3. Whether, if the decision of the Special Tribunal in the present case was reviewable, it was a lawful decision; and, if not, whether it ought to be set aside.


This is an appeal about the Special Tribunal, as established by the Civil Service Act. The Special Tribunal, which comprises the Chairman of the Essential Services Division of the Industrial Court and two other members of that Division, hears (among other things) disputes under the Supplemental Police Act involving estate constables, who are individuals employed by public or private bodies to provide policing in relation to particular sites and properties while also being police officers.

By letters dated 15 May 2014, RBC Royal Bank (Trinidad and Tobago) Ltd terminated the services of 42 estate constables with effect from the next day on the ground that the Bank had decided to outsource its security function.

On 2 September 2014, the Estate Police Association reported to the Minister of Labour, under s.40 of the Supplemental Police Act of the existence of a dispute concerning the termination of the estate constables’ contracts. The Minister of Labour referred the dispute to the Special Tribunal.

The Estate Police Association contended that the Bank had acted contrary to the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act (Ch 88:13). The Association also contended that the Bank’s actions had been contrary to good industrial relations practices, far from the established norm and had been harsh and unjust.

By an order dated 31 January 2018, the Special Tribunal held that it had no jurisdiction to determine the matter. The Estate Police Association sought to challenge this decision by way of judicial review. A dispute arose between the Estate Police Association and the Special Tribunal, firstly as to whether decisions of the Special Tribunal are amenable in principle to being challenged in the High Court under the High Court’s general powers of judicial review, and secondly, whether the Special Tribunal’s decision to decline to deal with the complaint brought by the Estate Police Association and in any event stating the complaint was ill founded, was lawful or not.

The High Court held that decisions of the Special Tribunal are in principle amenable to judicial review but upheld the lawfulness of the Special Tribunal’s decision. Both parties appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal held that the judge had been right to conclude that decisions of the Special Tribunal are subject to the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court but disagreed with the Judge’s conclusion as to whether the Special Tribunal had had jurisdiction to determine the dispute. The Special Tribunal now appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.



The Special Tribunal


The Estate Police Association



Lord Briggs, Lord Hamblen, Lord Leggatt, Lady Rose, Lady Simler

Hearing start date

29 February 2024

Hearing finish date

29 February 2024

Watch hearing
29 February 2024 Morning session

Judgment details

Judgment date

30 May 2024

Neutral citation

[2024] UKPC 13


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