Toussaint v. Attorney General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)  UKPC 48 (16 July 2007)
Privy Council Appeal No 28 of 2006
Randolph Trueman Toussaint Appellant
The Attorney General of
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Respondent
THE COURT OF APPEAL OF
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
JUDGMENT OF THE LORDS OF THE JUDICIAL
COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL
Delivered the 16th July 2007
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Present at the hearing:-
Lord Hope of Craighead
Lord Scott of Foscote
Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[Delivered by Lord Mance]
"46. Without prejudice to any provision made by Parliament relating to the powers, privileges and immunities of the members and officers of the House and of other persons concerned in the business of the House or its committees, no civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member of the House for words spoken before, or written in a report to, the House or a committee thereof or by reason of any matter or thing brought by him therein by petition, bill, resolution, motion or otherwise."
The Privileges Act 1966
"3. Neither the Speaker nor any officer of the House shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise of any power conferred on or vested in the Speaker or such officer by or under the Constitution, this Act or any order of the House.
4. No civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any member –
(a) in respect of words spoken before;
(b) in respect of words written in a report to; or
(c) by reason of any matter or thing brought by petition, bill, motion or otherwise, before –
the House or a committee thereof.
16. No evidence relating to any of the following matters, that is to say –
(a) debates or proceedings in the House;
(b) the contents of the minutes of evidence taken or any document laid before the House or a committee or any proceedings of or before, or any examinations had before the House or any such committee,
shall be admissible in any proceedings before a court or person authorised by law to take evidence, unless the court or such last mentioned person is satisfied that permission has been given by the Speaker for such evidence to be given."
Evidence Act 1988
"All documents purporting to be copies of the debates and proceedings of the House of Assembly or of papers presented to the House of Assembly, if purporting to be printed by the Government Printer, shall on their mere production be admitted as evidence thereof in all courts."
Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1689:
"That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in Parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament."
"a long line of authority which supports a wider principle, of which article 9 is merely one manifestation, viz. that the courts and Parliament are both astute to recognise their respective constitutional roles. So far as the courts are concerned they will not allow any challenge to be made to what is said or done within the walls of Parliament in performance of its legislative functions and protection of its established privileges."
"According to conventional wisdom, the combined operation of article 9 and that wider principle would undoubtedly prohibit any suggestion in the present action (whether by way of direct evidence, cross-examination or submission) that statements were made in the House which were lies or motivated by a desire to mislead. It would also prohibit any suggestion that proceedings in the House were initiated or carried through into legislation in pursuance of the alleged conspiracy."
"speak freely without fear that what they say will later be held against them in the courts. The important public interest protected by such privilege is to ensure that the member or witness at the time he speaks is not inhibited from stating fully and freely what he has to say. If there were any exceptions which permitted his statements to be questioned subsequently, at the time when he speaks he would not know whether or not there would subsequently be a challenge to what he is saying (p. 334B-C)."
"For these reasons (which are in substance those of the courts below) their Lordships are of the view that parties to litigation, by whomsoever commenced, cannot bring into question anything said or done in the House by suggesting (whether by direct evidence, cross-examination, inference or submission) that the actions or words were inspired by improper motives or were untrue or misleading. Such matters lie entirely within the jurisdiction of the House, subject to any statutory exception such as exists in New Zealand in relation to perjury under section 108 of the Crimes Act 1961."
"However, their Lordships wish to make it clear that this principle does not exclude all references in court proceedings to what has taken place in the House."
"Their Lordships wish to make it clear that if the defendant wishes at the trial to allege the occurrence of events or the saying of certain words in Parliament without any accompanying allegation of impropriety or any other questioning there is no objection to that course."
"That would be an ironic consequence of article 9. Intended to protect the integrity of the legislature from the executive and the courts, article 9 would become a source of protection of the executive from the courts (para 51)."
"Whereas it is enacted by section 3 of the Land Acquisition Act 1946 that, if the Governor-General considers that any land should be acquired for a public purpose, he may cause a declaration to that effect to be made, and Whereas it is considered by the Governor-General that the undermentioned parcel of land should be acquired for a public purpose, to wit, a Learning Centre for the people of Canouan (thumping of desks), now it is hereby declared ….."
"We have acted, whoever think, whatever individual may think that he possesses a right there is always the law courts. But we cannot sit idly by."
"29. These principles require not only that you should be able to get to the court room door. The rule of law and separation of powers would be equally at risk if the executive government was entitled, as a matter of arbitrary discretion, to instruct the court to dismiss your action. There are different ways in which one could draft a law to give the executive such a power. It might say that the cause of action was not complete without the government's consent. That would look like a rule of substantive law. Or it could provide that the government could issue a certificate saying that the action was not to proceed. That looks like a procedural bar. But provided one holds onto the underlying principle, which is to maintain the rule of law and the separation of powers, it should not matter how the law is framed. What matters is whether the effect is to give the executive a power to make decisions about people's rights which under the rule of law should be made by the judicial branch of government."
Mr Clayton submits that a like objection applies to an apparently unconstrained power over the pursuit of a claim given to the Speaker of a legislature.
"(4) The judge may …. make such order as to costs as appear to the judge to be just ….
(6) The general rule is that no order for costs may be made against an applicant for an administrative order unless the court considers that the applicant has acted unreasonably in making the application or in the conduct of the application."