This article was originally posted in Cayman Loop News, 3 March 2023.
According to a judgment given by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council today, March 3, Justin Ramoon, who was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 35 years for the murder of Jason Powery, has been granted the right to have a judicial review before the Grand Court on one ground of his appeal before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The subject of the judicial review to go before the Grand Court is whether the Court of Appeal erred in concluding that the Grand Court had jurisdiction to hold a closed material procedure or (if such jurisdiction existed) that the jurisdiction could properly be exercised.
Regarding this closed material procedure, www.justice.gov.uk explained this as follows:
(1) If the court considers it necessary for any party and that party’s legal representative to be excluded from any hearing or part of a hearing in order to secure that information is not disclosed where disclosure would be damaging to the interests of national security, it must—
(a) direct accordingly; and
(b) conduct the hearing, or that part of it from which that party and that party’s legal representative are excluded, in private but attended by a special advocate to represent the interests of the excluded party.
(2) The court may conduct a hearing or part of a hearing in private for any other good reason.
In Ramoon’s case, the Court of Appeal concluded that a closed material procedure (CMP) should be ordered.
What then took place is explained as follows in the Privy Council judgment:
Mr Ashley Underwood QC had been appointed as Special Advocate to represent the interests of the appellant and Douglas at the hearing on whether there would be CMP and PII hearing.
He was given access to all the withheld material and made representations on that material to the judge in a closed or ex parte hearing from which the appellant, Douglas and their legal representatives were excluded. He also made submissions during the open sessions.
“Such a step should be taken, if at all, by the legislature which is better placed than is the judiciary to assess the policy considerations relating to the necessity for such a procedure and the practicalities of its operation,” the Privy Council judgment continued.
The Privy Council judgment concluded:
Moreover, the Court of Appeal here overlooked the essential reasoning of Al Rawi that a CMP, unlike the law relating to PII, necessarily involves a departure from the principles of open justice and natural justice, principles which are fundamental to the right to a fair trial.
For these reasons, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council said that they will “humbly advise His Majesty that the appeal should be allowed on ground 1… and that the proceedings should be remitted to the Grand Court for the hearing of the judicial review.”