Opposition senator Wayne Sturge says that the true picture regarding legal fees paid by the state under the People’s Partnership Government, is not being painted.
During his contribution to the budget debate in the senate, Sturge said what was not being made clear was how the monies were being spent on legal representation. Sturge said the number of cases before the court required spending the nearly one billion dollars in legal fees to prevent the state from having to pay out nine billion in matters.
During the budget debate minister in the office of the Attorney General Stuart Young, detailed legal fees paid out to lawyers that in some cases totalled well over 200 million dollars.
However, Sturge said he takes issue with questions regarding legal fees charged by junior attorneys, since he says it is standard practice in Trinidad and Tobago for those fees to be in line with those of senior counsel. Sturge said Young did not explain that the quality of the attorneys hired is not being factored in to the fees. “Quality costs,” he said.
The opposition senator said the People’s National Movement has a history of losing many cases and paying high legal fees, however under the People’s Partnership government, the state had a ninety-five percent success rate in matters before the court.
Meantime, Young chastised Sturge in response. He said that Sturge’s attack on the government’s efforts to give autonomy to the judiciary was unintelligible.
Young got into a spat with the opposition when he called on the population to stand up against what he described as the People’s Partnership’s “bullying.”
Senator Wade Mark rose to his feet on a point of order but Young raised his voice and said he would not give way. “This is not your house, I will not give way,” he said.