by Claudette Joseph
On 14 October 2020, I filed a case in the High Court of Grenada challenging the validity of a Fixed Penalty Notice (traffic ticket) issued to me by a traffic warden.
My main contentions were that:
- In amending the Road Traffic Act to establish the Grenada Transport Board, which was given the power to among other things, appoint traffic wardens on contract, Parliament contravened sections 84 and 89 of the Constitution.
- Traffic wardens perform certain police functions and are not lawfully employed by the Transport Board.
- The police service is part of the public service established by the Constitution, therefore traffic wardens are to be treated with as police officers.
Today Madam Justice Agnes Actie ruled that although the Grenada Transport Board was not a statutory body, traffic wardens contracted by it were lawfully hired and could perform the functions and duties assigned to them. Further, although they perform certain limited functions traditionally performed by police officers, traffic wardens are not police officers.
My motivation in bringing the case was to ensure adherence to the provisions of our Constitution and to have traffic wardens, who are substantially performing duties of an established public service position, declared public officers as envisaged by the Constitution. In that way, they can enjoy all the benefits of public officers including job security and pension rights.
In delivering the ruling, the learned Judge noted that traffic wardens are temporary jobs with no degree of permanence or security. However, she ruled that Parliament can pass laws that will allow government to hire contract workers to perform duties that will ordinarily be performed by public servants. Despite the duties performed, the Judge noted that only those workers appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) are public officers. Therefore, she held that traffic wardens, not being appointed by the PSC, are not police officers or public officers.
Recognising that this ruling potentially gives a boost to the plague of ‘public service contract work’ and may be a setback in the struggle for permanent, secure employment in the public service as the Constitution intends, I have asked Mr James Bristol QC, my legal representative, to file an appeal against the ruling.