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Karl Hudson-Phillips QC: a legal giant

Friday, January 17 2014

Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillips, QC, was an advocate and barrister-at-law who practised extensively in English speaking jurisdictions in the Caribbean. He has appeared in major trials involving both civil and criminal matters and in addition has briefed in major arbitrations and commissions of enquiries in these jurisdictions. He was born on April 20, 1933.

Mr Hudson-Phillips had his early education in Trinidad where he was born and proceeded to the University of Cambridge in 1952. He graduated BA in Law in 1955 and then proceeded to do a post graduate degree at the same university graduating LLB in 1956.

For the post graduate degree he did English Company Law and Comparative Law.

Mr Hudson-Phillips was called to the Bar of the UK in 1959 and returned to Trinidad and Tobago in the same year and entered the legal Chambers of his father, Henry Hudson-Phillips, QC. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1970. He had been admitted to practice in all of the States of the Eastern Caribbean in addition to Jamaica and Guyana. He was elected to Parliament in 1966. In December 1969, he was appointed Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago and held that post until September 1973, when he resigned.

During that period he appeared personally in all major criminal and civil matters involving the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Also in this capacity he was associated with the dreaded Public Order Act which was proposed by the People’s National Movement government in response to the Black Power riots and Army Mutiny of 1970.

In 1974, Hudson-Phillips founded the National Land Tenants and Ratepayers Association of Trinidad and Tobago. In 1980, he founded the Organisation for National Reconstruction.

In addition to the Grenada murder trial, Hudson-Phillips has been involved in many high-profile cases throughout the Caribbean, as both presecutor and defender, including his successful defence for former Government Minister Dhanraj Singh in 2003.

In 1999 he was elected president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago and was re- elected in March 2002 unopposed for a fourth consecutive term.

In February 2003, Hudson-Phillips was elected to the first ever bench of International Criminal Court judges. As “dean of the judges”, he chaired the first meetings of judges before the election of the presidency. He also contributed actively to the drafting of the regulations of the court. He resigned from the court for personal reasons on March 14, 2007.

On July 23, 2010, Sihasak Phuangketkeow, President of the UN Human Rights Council, announced that Hudson-Phillips would head a panel of experts to investigate whether Israel’s Gaza flotilla raid on May 31, 2010 breached international law.

During his years at the Bar he has been involved in most major trials in the region. In January 2002, he was appointed as special legal adviser to the Anti-Corruption Bureau of TT and appeared frequently before the Judicial Council of the Privy Council in London.

Mr Hudson-Phillips received the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 2012.

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