CONSULTATION QUESTIONS ON PROPOSED SENTENCING GUIDELINES
The rule of law can only be maintained and strengthened by ensuring public confidence in the transparency and consistency of judicial approach. One of the areas of greatest public interest and comment, sometimes uninformed, is sentencing. The Court of Appeal, in the case from Trinidad of Aguillera v The State 2015, has sought to guide sentencing courts in the approach they should take. It is intended to achieve consistency of approach, not uniformity of sentencing.
Within the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (‘ECSC’), judges, masters and magistrates will be required to give reasons for the sentences which they impose. In order to assist them in the process of considering and explaining sentences, Her Ladyship the Honourable Chief Justice, Dame Janice Pereira DBE, has set up a Sentencing Advisory Committee (‘SAC’), of which the Chief Justice is President, under the joint-chairmanship of Her Ladyship Madam Justice Gertel Thom, Justice of Appeal, and His Lordship Mr Justice Iain Morley QC, Justice of the High Court. Its task is to draw up guidelines which will be brought into effect on dates to be appointed following public consultation. There will be specific steps required to be taken when constructing a sentence, and it is intended that the guidelines must be applied unless to do so would be contrary to the interests of justice. The reasoning process for any sentence must be given as well as any decision not to follow a guideline.
It is not intended that the guidelines will replace the discretion of the individual judge, master or magistrate in determining the appropriate sentence within the applicable range. In cases involving serious drug offences it is intended that sentences will increase. The Chief Justice intends that structured and well-reasoned sentencing remarks will become normal practice. These remarks will build up a bank of authority to assist courts, students of law and the public better to understand the principles and practice of sentencing law.
A first set of guidelines will be published on 2 April 2019, on offences involving drugs, rape, unlawful sexual intercourse, theft, and robbery. By that date, the Chief Justice will have consulted with the Judges and Magistrates of the ECSC, and within the jurisdiction of the court with Attorneys General, Directors of Public Prosecutions, police and police prosecutors, probation officers, social services, prisons, the Bar, universities, Chambers of Commerce, other interested agencies, and the public.
 See Aguillera v The State 2015 (Trinidad Criminal Appeals Cases 5, 6, 7, 8 of 2015).
There follows a form in which a series of questions is listed for feedback from interested parties on the proposed guidelines at appendix by 6pm on Friday 15 March 2019. If you wish to pose any questions, you can do so by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org