Witness statements for prosecutions - a legal perspective

01 December 2017

The IOSH Caribbean Branch hosted its Branch meeting on 1 December 2017 at the Cara Suites Hotel and Conference Centre, Claxton Bay, Trinidad, on 1st December, 2017. Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Kevin Ratiram, presented at this meeting on the topic "Witness statements for OSH prosecutions - a legal perspective".

Mr. Kevin Ratiram, Attorney-at-Law, delivering his presentation Witness Statements for OSH Prosecutions A Legal Perspective.

This topic attracted a tremendous response from the Branch's membership resulting in an over subscription to the event. The discussion generated lively discussions and keen interest as Mr. Ratiram elaborated on the following:

  • Provisions of the TT Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act pertaining to work related accidents/fatalities
  • Role of the OSH Agency as the enforcer of this law in Trinidad and Tobago; and when a Company is deemed to have breached the legislation, the Section(s) relevant to the said breach must be clearly stated
  • The burden of proof lies with the accused (duty holder) and not with the prosecution (OSH Agency); i.e. the Company being accused must prove that they had done what was required to discharge their responsibility under the Act
  • When to seek legal advice for OSH matters
  • Importance of record keeping and validity of records

Mr. Ratiram further explained that should the organization be prosecuted for breaches of the TT OSH Act, the matter would go before the Industrial Court. He provided definitions of the following:

  1. A witness
  2. An expert witness
  3. Witness statement(s)
  4. Evidence and Arguments
  5. Real evidence
  6. Hearsay evidence
  7. Evidence in Chief

Mr. Ratiram stressed the need for being consistent and clear in the preparation of witness statements, the consequences of being inconsistent and the need for having sound legal advice early rather than later. Guidance was also given on the content and style of the witness statements.

The IOSH CB Chair, Mr. Curt Cadet, concluded the evening by thanking members for showing their interest by attending the event. He thanked Mr. Ratiram for sharing his expertise with the members and was presented with a token of appreciation.

Jenelle Duff, Assistant Secretary, presenting Mr. Ratiram with a token of appreciation.

We would like to hear from our members! Your suggestions on interested topics for Branch Meetings and general feedback are welcome. Please email us at caribbean@ioshnetworks.co.uk and visit us here.