Dr. Raymond Ramcharitar v The University of the West Indies

JurisdictionTrinidad & Tobago
JudgeDonna Prowell-Raphael
Judgment Date25 September 2019
Docket NumberE.O.T. No. 0001 OF 2019
CourtEqual Opportunity Tribunal (Trinidad and Tobago)
Dr. Raymond Ramcharitar
The University of the West Indies

H.H. Donna Prowell-Raphael.

E.O.T. No. 0001 OF 2019



Mr. Jagdeo Singh and Mr. Kiel Taklalsingh instructed by Shoshanna V. Lall for the Complainant.

Mr. Ravi Nanga instructed by Ms. Elena Araujo for the Respondent.


The Equal Opportunity Tribunal


The Complaint






Referral under section 14.4 of the Constitution




The Equal Opportunity Tribunal

The Equal Opportunity Tribunal 1 (‘the Tribunal’) is an anti-discrimination court established by the Equal Opportunity Act 2 (‘the Act’). The Act permits a person who claims that he has been discriminated against to submit 3 “a written complaint… setting out the details of the alleged act of discrimination” to the Equal Opportunity Commission (‘the Commission’). If the complaint, after investigation cannot be or is not resolved through conciliation by the Commission, the Commission is mandated, with the consent and on behalf of the Complainant, to institute proceedings before Tribunal for judicial determination of the complaint.

The Complaint

These proceedings were initiated by referral dated 2 nd January, 2019 from the Equal Opportunity Commission (‘the Commission’). In these proceedings the Complainant is seeking declarations for discrimination and damages pursuant to sections 6 and 8 of the Act, consequential relief and damages.


By Notice dated 11 th January, 2019 time was fixed for the Complainant to file his Complaint and Particulars thereof on or before the 14 th February, 2019 and the Respondent to file its Defence on or before 14 th March, 2019. A Case Management Hearing was fixed for 4 th June, 2019. The Complainant filed his Complaint on the 14 th February, 2019.


The Respondent filed a Notice of Application on 22 nd February, 2019 seeking the following orders pursuant to Parts 7.13 and 24.1 of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal Rules and Procedure 2016 (‘the ETR’) and or Parts 26.1 (1)(d) and 27(9)(1) of the Civil Proceedings Rules 1998 (‘the CPR’):

  • (i) A declaration that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction in this matter;

  • (ii) In the alternative, that the time for the filing of the Respondent's Defence be extended to 14 days after the determination of this Application;

  • (iii) That the Complainant pays the Respondent's costs.


This application is supported by the affidavit of Camille Ramcharan (‘the Respondent's affidavit’) sworn to on 21 st February, 2019 and filed herein on the 22 nd February, 2019.


The Respondent filed submissions in support its application and its List of Authorities on the 1 st April, 2019.


The Complainant filed his submissions in opposition to the Respondent's application on the 17 th May, 2019. The Respondent filed its reply to the Complainant's submissions on the 3 rd June, 2019.


The Respondent submits that the Tribunal ought to decline jurisdiction over hearing this matter on the basis that it involves the temporary appointment to an academic office within the Respondent and the exclusive jurisdiction on such matters resides with the University Visitor pursuant to the Charter of the University of the West Indies and or its successive amendments (‘the Charter’).


The Complainant, in its response to the application, raises inter alia the issue as to whether the exclusive jurisdiction ot the University Visitor is inconsistent with the Constitution and the Act (‘the constitutional issue’). He contends that —

  • (i) The Charter as subsidiary law is inconsistent with the fundamental tenet of a democratic state such as Trinidad and Tobago as declared in section 1 of its Constitution;

  • (ii) In so far as the Charter asserts exclusive jurisdiction of the Visitor in matters of natural justice and discrimination it is null and void. This is inconsistent with section 2 of the Constitution, which provides that the Constitution is the supreme law of the country and any law that is inconsistent with the Constitution is void to the extent of such inconsistency;

  • (iii) At the core of this Complaint is the Complainant's right to equality before the law and to the protection of the law (section 4(b) of the Constitution) and the right not to be deprived of a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of natural justice for determination of his rights and obligations (Section 5(2)(e) of the Constitution); and

  • (iv) By section 4 of the Constitution, the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms are secured without discrimination by reason of race, origin, colour religion or sex.


The Respondent contends that the Tribunal does not have the power to determine the constitutional issue and therefore the constitutional issue raised by the Complainant must fail.

Referral Under Section 14.4 of the Constitution

In Suratt v. AG 4: Baroness Hale in considering the jurisdiction of the Tribunal with respect to breaches of sections 4 and 5 of the constitution stated:

“…Secondly, under s 14(4) of the Constitution, the tribunal may refer to the High Court any question of contravention of the rights in ss 4 or 5 of the Constitution and must do so if a party to proceedings before the tribunal so requests, unless the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT