Court of Appeal rules that the Government of Grenada as the “visitor” of the Saint George’s University has sole and exclusive jurisdiction to deal with the internal affairs of the University
In Rajiv Gunness v Saint George’s University Limited et al, this Court considered whether the Government of Grenada was a visitor of the University on a proper construction of Article 2 of the Second Schedule of the Saint George’s University Limited Act.
The Court held that having regard to the nature of the visitor’s jurisdiction, the appointment of a visitor must be expressed. No particular form of words is necessary but the intention is to be gleaned from the statute. In interpreting legislative provisions, the court would adopt a purposive interpretation so as to give effect to what is taken to have been intended by Parliament. However, the court has no power to improve upon the instrument which it is called upon to construe; it can only discover what the instrument means. In this connection, the Court found that under Article 2 titled “Visitation Rights”, the parties agreed for the government to be the visitor of the University with full visitation rights with the government determining the person or persons who will exercise the rights on behalf of the government.
In dismissing the appeal, the Court held that a visitor has sole and exclusive jurisdiction over the internal affairs of a university. A dispute as to the correct interpretation and fair administration of the domestic laws of the university falls within the jurisdiction of the visitor, therefore the Court usually lacks jurisdiction in the first instance to interfere. However, a decision of the university visitor may be amenable to judicial review as the visitor is susceptible to the supervisory jurisdiction of the court. The dispute in this case being a disciplinary matter and being grounded in the domestic laws of the University, was a matter which fell squarely within the internal management of the University and therefore was a matter within the jurisdiction of the visitor.