The Attorney General’s Chambers is committed to providing high quality legal services to Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands and lands related services to the people of the Islands.
Ever mindful of the need to protect the public interest and to safeguard and preserve the Constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the fundamental rights and freedoms which it enshrines, the Attorney General’s Chambers pledges to uphold the traditions and high standards of equity, fairness and justice.
The Attorney General’s Chambers is a Government of the Turks and Caicos entity, headed by the Attorney General, The Honourable Rhondalee Braithwaite- Knowles who was appointed on February 14th 2014 and sworn in on March 6th 2014 as being the first local and first female Attorney General of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Over the years the Attorney General once included the department of Public Prosecution but was separated on a recommendation from Sir Robin Auld during the Civil Recovery in 2009.
As principal legal adviser to the Government, the Attorney General’s Chambers plays an important role in upholding the rule of law in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and therefore contributes to one of the key aspirations of the people: to build a democratic society based on the fundamental ideals of justice and equality.
“The Attorney General performs the following key functions - The Legal Adviser to the Government and the House of Assembly.
The Attorney General is a member of the Cabinet and one of five unelected members of the House of Assembly. Section 41 of the Constitution states that the Attorney General “shall be the Legal Adviser to the Government and the House of Assembly.”
Drafter of the Laws and Law Reformer
The Attorney General is responsible for drafting the laws of the Turks and Caicos Islands and producing revised editions of the legislation. Additionally, the Attorney General is responsible for reforming the laws to keep them in line with modern standards.
Turks and Caicos Islands’ Legal Representative
All court actions by or against the Government are made in the name of the Attorney General. Section … of the Crown Proceedings Ordinance provides …. the Attorney General also represents the Turks and Caicos Islands and advances and protects the interests of the Turks and Caicos Islands in the international arena and in international disputes.
Central Authority for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition
The Attorney General is responsible for the processing and handling of requests for assistance in accordance with Mutual Legal Assistance matters and applicable Treaties
The Attorney General is responsible for the administration of Crown Land in the Islands and related departments. section … of the Crown Land Ordinance provides …
The Attorney General discharges these responsibilities and duties through 4 divisions (Civil, Commercial, Legislative Drafting and Lands) with the support of the Administrative staff within the Chambers.
By virtue of her office, the Attorney General is not able to render legal advice to anyone other than the Government (and its constituent Ministries and Departments) and the House of Assembly.
Therefore, any private individual or company should instruct and Attorney at Law from the private bar. For information on the private law practices and Attorneys at Law please contact the TCI Bar Council or visit its website www.tcibarcouncil.tc.
Persons who are defendants in criminal proceedings in the Supreme Court or above and do not have the resources to hire a legal representative may contact the Registrar of the Supreme Court for legal aid and the Registrar will assess whether an individual qualifies under the Legal Aid Scheme.”
The general objective of the Legal Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers is to work as a team on the basis of mutual trust, support and respect in delivering a quality and timely legal service to Government under the supervision and direction of the Hon. Attorney General and to assist the Attorney General in the performance of her Constitution and legal functions. The Legal Division is comprised of three working groups or departments – Civil, Commercial and Legislative Drafting. The objective of the Legislative Drafting division is to meet Government priorities and publish annual legislation; to advise on the consequences of treaties and conventions for domestic legislation; and to maintain a current and adequate information service and continue to modernize the law library and cataloguing system. The objective of the Civil division is to provide legal advice/opinions on a timely basis upon request and in any event within 14 days depending on the complexity of the issue(s) and availability of full instructions on the matter as well as represent the Government in civil litigation in the Islands. The Commercial division drafts agreements to be entered into on behalf of the Government and strives to offer a turn round to meet the needs of parties.
A key staffing objective is to provide career opportunities for Turks and Caicos Islands and to develop and maintain skills on a continuing basis through on the job training, external attachments and training opportunities. In respect of the wider Government, to provide periodic seminars on legal issues with Immigration, Police and other Departments in line with the Chambers’ proactive approach to its legal service delivery to the Government.
Integrity and fairness
As public servants supporting the government of the day, no matter what its political complexion, the officers of the Legal Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers are committed to respecting and obeying the law and upholding the highest standards of integrity and fairness.
The Legal Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers aims for excellence and constructive contributions in serving the government and our clients.
The Lands Division was established in April 2012 and is a result of the Turks & Caicos Government Public Sector Reform Programme. Its purpose is to ensure that the land resource is used in an efficient and responsible way in order to achieve the sustainable development of the Islands.
The Lands Division falls under the auspices of the Attorney General’s Chambers and comprises four main departments; the Crown Land Unit, Survey & Mapping Department, Valuation Department and the Land Registry. By merging the various land functions under a single umbrella it is envisioned that the service delivery of the various departments will be more efficient.
Core Business Functions
Each department is established by statue and carries out different functions.
(1) Crown Land Unit
Crown Land Unit facilitates the appropriate management, use and development of Crown land, including the licensing, leasing, sale and rental of Crown properties.
Most of the Crown land management and administrative functions undertaken by the Crown Land Unit are governed by the Crown Land Ordinance 2012 including,
- allocation of Crown land for various purposes
- approval for extensions of lease, change of user and subdivision schemes
- generation and collection of land revenue and other charges
- documentation and protection of crown properties
- provision of up-to-date land information
(2) Land Registry
The Land Registry is located in Grand Turk and provides a legal land transfer process and a central system where details of ownership, title, mortgages and other interests in property are recorded in a public register.
The Main Responsibilities of the Land Registry are;
- The registration of land transactions
- The arbitration of land and boundary disputes
- The Collection of stamp duty, processing registration and other land transaction fees/charges
- The Custody, maintenance and the updating of the register
(3) Survey and Mapping Department
The Survey and Mapping Department of the Lands Division is the central authority for land surveys and all types of mapping in the Turks & Caicos Islands.
The main responsibilities of this Department are as follows:
- Establishment and maintenance of a geodetic network;
- Provision of land boundary (cadastral) surveys, photogrammetric survey as well as services;
- Regulating and checking of all land surveys attended by registered surveyors
- Maintenance and storage of all survey records.
- Maintenance of a computerised land information system for mapping data and land boundary records;
- Production and revision of maps and plans at different scales for different purposes; and
- Administration of the Land Survey Ordinance, including ensuring the maintenance of professional standards established under the Land Survey Ordinance.
(3) Valuation Department
The Department provides services to Government and statutory institutions including in the sphere of Valuation and Property Management. The Department is also charged with the responsibility for
- Monitoring property transactions via review and assessment of values for stamp duty purposes.
- Maintaining an up-to-date database of all property transaction to be used as evidence in arriving at an opinion of value.
- Undertaking field inspections to determine the level of development and availability of services for valuation purposes.
- Negotiating the purchase of property in private treaty/compulsory acquisition on behalf of the government.
- Assessing and periodically reassessing of property values for Crown leases and rentals