Constitutional Claim – Deborah Chen v The University of the West Indies

In this case (judgement in link below) the Supreme Court per Henry-McKenzie, J applies the well-established principle that constitutional claims should not be brought where a parallel and adequate remedy exists to invoke judicial control of administrative action. Here, a candidate for a PH.D, referred to dispute with the university to the University’s Visitor. The dispute remained unresolved some 5 years later. She brought this claim alleging breach of her constitutional right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial tribunal. The court accepted arguments that an adequate, alternative remedy was available to the Claimant/candidate in the form of judicial review for a writ of mandamus compelling the Visitor to act. This effectively would bring an end to the complaint of delay.

The court made the following observation:

“Although the right to apply to the Supreme Court for redress when a human right has been, or is likely to be contravened, is an important safeguard of those rights, the notion that whenever there is a failure by an organ of government or a public authority or public officer to comply with the law signifies the contravention of some human right guaranteed to individuals, is fallacious.”


See Case Judgement here


Civil Procedure Rules Part 56 – Availability of Alternative Remedy to Claimant for Constitutional Relief – Jurisdiction of Court to hear matters within Visitor’s Jurisdiction – Delay in Exercising Jurisdiction – Breach of Constitutional Right to a Fair Hearing Within a Reasonable Time before an Independent and Impartial Tribunal

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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