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Court is place to resolve Tweed decision

The Reverend Nicholas Tweed (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Dear Sir,

Having read the recent articles in your paper and the letters to the editor section concerning Reverend Tweed, there appears to be some confusion on the work permit application process. There also seems to be some misapprehension that a minister of Government’s decision is final on work permit applications.

The process for work permit applications has long been established in Bermuda and is generally as follows:

1. The employer first applies to the Department of Immigration, which then processes the application and thereafter, places it before the Board of Immigration for adjudication. The Board then recommends either its approval or refusal to the minister, who as a matter of course, acts accordingly.

2. Should the work permit application be refused, the employer may ask the minister to reconsider the department’s decision, a process which is carried out with more rigour and scrutiny, as the minister has a strict legal duty to act fairly.

3. Should the employer be aggrieved by the minister’s refusal of the work permit application, then he may appeal the minister’s decision to the Supreme Court for judicial review.

4. The prospective employee is not part of this process save in exceptional circumstances.

Should the employer be aggrieved that the minister has not acted fairly, he may appeal to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the minister’s decision. The Supreme Court has on a number of occasions reviewed and quashed a minister’s decision, where it has concluded that the minister acted unfairly. The 2002 case of Reverend P.L. Christopher Haynes (an AME pastor) is on point where the Supreme Court quashed the minister’s decision for reasons of procedural impropriety. In another case involving Dr Neville Marks, the Court of Appeal quashed the minister’s decision on the grounds that the minister failed to act fairly. A minster of Government’s decision is not final.

It is my hope that if Reverend Tweed’s employer is aggrieved by the minister’s decision to refuse the renewal of his work permit, that it will appeal the minister’s decision to the Supreme Court. The court is the proper venue for resolution of this matter and not the public or political arena.