Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, moves the second reading of The Miscellaneous Amendments (No. 2) Bill, 2020.

Gail Alexander

Legislative changes being made will allow people to use courts anywhere in T&T – rather than a particular magisterial district – to handle matters like traffic ticket payments, liquor licences applications and other issues.

Attorney General Faris Al Rawi indicated this in the Senate yesterday piloting a miscellaneous package of amendments to 36 pieces of law.

Amendments include a clause to provide for the centralization of magisterial districts in T&T. Al Rawi said going forward there would be only three locations in North and South Trinidad and Tobago.

“It means you’d no longer have to go to a magisterial district to pay a traffic ticket. If you lived in Tobago but were in Rio Claro, you’d previously have had to return to Tobago to pay the ticket. But now you’ll be able to use court locations anywhere to pay,“ he said.

He said the situation in future would also apply to courts dealing with guns and fraud matters.

The bill also allows the Chief Justice to transfer cases from one court location to another, designate a court location for the hearing of specific types of cases by a summary court and assign magistrates to more than one court location.

Al Rawi said this was being done to expedite cases.

The CJ will also be authorised – rather than the Chief Magistrate – to appoint a member of the judiciary to the Psychiatric Hospital Tribunal. Al Rawi said the CJ had better jurisdiction to manage those who site on the tribunal, rather than the Chief Magistrate.

Al Rawi said there are now 3,000 matters before video conferencing courts at prisons, “saving $25m a year in prisoners’ transport.”

He said the bill also allows for bonds issued under section 47A to be taxable or non-taxable.

The bill will also create a Defence Force Air Guard Wing and facilitates the appointment of a Vice Chief of Defence Staff, from among Defence Force commissioned officers.

It also provides for the extension of the period to pay fees in respect of the grant of a firearms licence /certificate.

The Bill proposes conditions for the yachting industry, Al Rawi said many vessels are coming to TT’s hurricane-free zone and while vessels aren’t being allowed in yet- due to COVID protocols – “we’re knocking on the door and must be ready (for them).”

The bill also empowers a Justice of the Peace to issue a warrant to seize counterfeit coins and coining tools.