Woman wins review of work application

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A woman born in Bermuda to non-Bermudian parents has won a judicial review over a rejected application to work on the island without restriction.

According to a ruling by Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman, the Minister of Home Affairs had discriminated against Paula Tavares on the ground of her national origin.

The Supreme Court heard that Mrs Tavares was born in Bermuda in 1976, at which time she was considered a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth.

She became a British Dependent Territories citizen in 1983 under the British Nationality Act 1981, and in 2002 she became classified as a British Overseas Territories citizen.

If either of her parents had Bermudian status, the court heard she would also have had Bermudian status.

While Mrs Tavares moved to the Azores when she was 10, she returned to Bermuda with her family three years later. She later pursued higher education in Portugal and the Azores, returning to the island in 2001 with her Portuguese husband.

Since then, the couple have had two children who were born and brought up on the island.

“Mrs Tavares would like to work,” the decision stated. “However, she states that her employment options are very limited because as matters stand she has to apply for a work permit.”

While a March 2016 ruling in a separate Supreme Court case allowed Mrs Tavares permission to work without restrictions, the decision was partially overturned in the Court of Appeal last November.

“Mrs Tavares belonged to Bermuda at common law but did not fall within any of the categories of belonged who were protected by the Constitution,” the court stated. “She therefore had to give up her job immediately.”

Her lawyer, Peter Sanderson, wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs asking her to give Mrs Tavares specific permission to engage in employment without the imposition of conditions or limitations. That request was denied.

The couple sought a judicial review of the decision, with Mr Sanderson arguing that Mrs Tavares had been discriminated against on the grounds of her national origin.

“He relies upon the fact that Mrs Tavares is a BOT citizen by reason of her birth in Bermuda and is therefore a common law belonged in that Bermuda is the constitutional unit to which her citizenship relates; that Bermuda is her home and she has lived here almost all her life; and that the vast majority of persons possessing Bermudian status are also BOT citizens,” the judge wrote. “I agree.”

The judge also agreed that the minister’s refusal unlawfully discriminated against Mrs Tavares on the ground of place of origin and treated her less favourably than someone at least one of whose parents possessed Bermudian status.

The judge quashed the minister’s decision, remitting the matter to be reconsidered.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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