In an emailed media statement, Armour said the association must always be independent in order to fulfill its statutory mandate of promoting, maintaining and supporting the administration of justice and rule of law. He said the Association must be insulated from perceptions which may question the body’s independence.
“As I take up office as the President of the Law Association, I have to give consideration to the appropriate balance to be achieved in the best interest of the Association,” Armour said. “The Law Association is an institution of national importance. One of its statutory mandates is to promote, maintain and support the administration of justice and the rule of law. This it must accomplish as a strong independent association.”
Armour advised that, “in respect of those matters in which I am lead attorney for Dr Rowley, with immediate effect, I will be returning my High Court briefs to my instructing attorneys to have them replace me. I do this for the reason of insulating the Council of the Law Association from any charge of partiality against the Association in anything to be done under my leadership.”
Armour lawyer said while lawyers had an obligation to represent their clients, of equal importance was the need to maintain the Association’s appearance of impartiality. The Law Association President added, “I have discussed these considerations with Dr Keith Rowley as it affects my continued role as his lead attorney. He fully understands and supports the decision I have taken and has released me of all my professional obligations to him in those matters.”
The statement was signed by an official acting on behalf of Armour, who was in London yesterday to attend a Privy Council matter. Armour is to be replaced on Rowley’s legal team by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC.
As President of the association, Armour automatically sits on the body’s disciplinary committee. His statement did not indicate what procedures will be adopted on any issues relating to the briefs he has given up. He did not list the matters in which he held briefs for Rowley.
Rowley yesterday said his decision to replace Armour as his lead counsel was due to the need for the Association, “to be insulated from any allegation of a lack of independence in the discharge of its duties.”
In a media statement congratulating Armour on his election and wishing him a successful term in office, the PNM political leader said, “In all the circumstances it would be inappropriate for me to request that Mr Armour SC continue on as lead counsel in matters brought by Mr (former AG Anand) Ramlogan against me.”
Rowley said Armour held briefs as Senior Counsel in HCA No. CV 2012-02948 Anand Ramlogan v Keith Rowley and in HCA No. CV 2014 – 03335 Anand Ramlogan v Keith Rowley. He said those matters deal with Ramlogan’s defamation lawsuits in relation to the section 34 matter and email conspiracy allegations.
Rowley added he was pleased Maharaj has “kindly consented” to replace Armour. “I sincerely thank both eminent silk for their representation,” the Opposition Leader concluded.