A High Court judge in Barbados has struck down a claim by students who were seeking judicial review of the process of the 2020 Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams and the format for this year’s exams, ruling that the regional exams body has immunity from legal action.
However, the group’s lead attorney has indicated that an appeal will be filed in due course.
In a ruling handed down on Wednesday, Madam Justice Michelle Weekes said the students had no legal standing to request the judicial review since CXC is immune to any form of legal processes in Barbados, as certified by the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
She added that CXC qualifies as an inter-governmental organisation and is not an authority of the Government of Barbados.
Attorney-at-law Liesel Weekes, who filed the action on the students’ behalf, told the Nation newspaper after the ruling that the matter will go further.
“I don’t want to get into the grounds of the appeal right now, but I will continue to fight on their behalf. We’ve come this far and we can’t just leave it at this stage,” she said.
The legal team, which also included Bryan Weekes, had gone to court seeking several declarations and actions. They wanted the court to declare that the examination process and means of assessment for the academic year 2020-21 in relation to the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations implemented on May 26, 2021 and endorsed by the Ministry of Education is irrational, unreasonable and therefore unlawful.
They also sought a declaration that the examination and assessment process implemented in relation to the students by the CXC for both CAPE and CSEC level tests for the 2019-2020 academic year was irrational and unreasonable and therefore unlawful.
The group also wanted the judge to make a third declaration that the Council’s decision in the prevailing circumstances to implement the examination and assessment process for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years was, and is manifestly unreasonable and an abuse of discretion/authority.
Additionally, they sought an order quashing the final grades issued to the affected class of persons represented in this action by the CXC for the June 2020 examination; and an order mandating that the regional body review the claimants’ submissions for the July/August 2020 examinations applying a methodology that is fair, transparent and reasonable in all of the prevailing circumstances.
They also sought an injunction restraining the CXC, whether by itself and/or its agents or otherwise howsoever, from destroying all 2020 examination scripts until the final determination of this matter.
Further, the claimants wanted an injunction restraining the council from administering the 2021 examinations as proposed and an order mandating that the CXC review and amend the assessment process for the 2021 examinations prior to administering them.
The aggrieved students had also asked the court for damages, costs to be paid by CXC, the Ministry of Education and the Attorney General’s Office, whether jointly or severally, and such further and/or other relief as may be deemed fit.
Justice Weekes is to make a ruling on costs, to determine if the students involved in the class-action suit should pay legal bills in this matter for CXC and the Government.
CXC was represented in the matter by Queen’s Counsel Ramon Alleyne and attorney Richelle Nichols.