In an important judgment delivered on 15 July 2019, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council emphasised the importance of transparency by public authorities in a judicial review of a decision they have made, and the need for them to respond to the application with “all the cards face upwards on the table”.
The case concerned the process adopted for appointment to the Trinidad and Tobago Judicial and Legal Service by the independent Judicial and Legal Service Commission, which was established for that purpose to insulate appointments from any political influence. That appointment process was the subject of the judicial review of decisions made by the Commission in relation to four candidates for appointment, the principal complaint being a failure to assess them for promotion in accordance with the applicable regulations.
Having ruled on the regulations, the Privy Council turned to the disclosure which had been made by the Commission to the Court in the judicial review process, and criticised the unfortunate lack of transparency about the appointment process.
The Court of Appeal had relied on the “presumption of regularity” which applies to official acts, but the Privy Council emphasised that this cannot override the duty of a public body to co-operate with the Court on a judicial review application to make available to the Court all relevant facts and reasoning underlying the decision under challenge.