Trinidad pays out TT$53m in legal fees

(Trinidad Express) The State has paid more than TT$53 million in legal fees to attorneys from June 2010-October 2013.
The main beneficiaries are Queen’s Counsel Allan Newman, Fenton Ramsahoye SC, Gerald Ramdeen, Kelvin Ramkissoon, Jagdeo Singh, Seenath Jairam SC and Avory Sinanan SC.
This figure excludes work done on behalf of State boards and invoices awaiting approval.
Sources say invoices within the Attorney General’s office, awaiting approval, total more than $8 million.
The Express understands that the payments exclude work done for various State enterprises such as WASA, T&TEC, NWRHA (North West Regional Health Authority), SWRHA (South West Regional Health Authority), and PTSC (Public Transport Service Corporation), just to name a few.
For the past two years, the Express has applied to the AG’s office under the Freedom of Information Act to ascertain the amount of money being spent to facilitate representation in court cases.
Calls were made to the office seeking reasons why the information was not forthcoming.
Two months ago, another application was made, but to date no response has been communicated.
According to invoices obtained by the Express, for the periods June 2010 to October 2013, Newman topped the list of high earners, having received TT$14,474,613.54; Ramdeen—TT$10,443,423; Ramsahoye—TT$7,750,096; Sinanan—TT$6,568,225; Ramkissoon—TT$5,924,631.80; Jairam—TT$4,478,847.50; and Singh—TT$3,728,832.97.
The fees were paid for briefs on being retained by the Office of the Attorney General and include professional legal advice, court appearances, investigations, and judicial review applications.
The results of the investigations, sources say, have not been forwarded to the police for investigation, nor sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
However, the matters are before the courts after civil action was initiated.
Sources say, in the past, the retention of attorneys was done by the Solicitor General. However, such a practice has lapsed and all decisions on who to retain have been taken by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.


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