Trinidad and Tobago 1976 Constitution (reviewed 2007)

Table of Contents


Whereas the People of Trinidad and Tobago—

  1. have affirmed that the Nation of Trinidad and Tobago is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in fundamental human rights and freedoms, the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions, the dignity of the human person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator;
  2. respect the principles of social justice and therefore believe that the operation of the economic system should result in the material resources of the community being so distributed as to subserve the common good, that there should be adequate means of livelihood for all, that labour should not be exploited or forced by economic necessity to operate in inhumane conditions but that there should be opportunity for advancement on the basis of recognition of merit, ability and integrity;
  3. have asserted their belief in a democratic society in which all persons may, to the extent of their capacity, play some part in the institutions of the national life and thus develop and maintain due respect for lawfully constituted authority;
  4. recognise that men and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law;
  5. desire that their Constitution should enshrine the above-mentioned principles and beliefs and make provision for ensuring the protection in Trinidad and Tobago of fundamental human rights and freedoms;

Now, therefore, the following provisions shall have effect as the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago:


1. The State

  1. The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago shall be a sovereign democratic State.
  2. Trinidad and Tobago shall comprise the Island of Trinidad, the Island of Tobago and any territories that immediately before the 31st day of August, 1962 were dependencies of Trinidad and Tobago, including the seabed and subsoil situated beneath the territorial sea and the continental shelf of Trinidad and Tobago (“territorial sea” and “continental shelf” here having the same meaning as in the Territorial Sea Act, 1969 and the Continental Shelf Act, 1969, respectively), together with such other areas as may be declared by Act to form part of the territory of Trinidad and Tobago.

2. The Supreme Law

This Constitution is the supreme law of Trinidad and Tobago, and any other law that is inconsistent with this Constitution is void to the extent of the inconsistency.

3. Interpretation

  1. In this Constitution—
    • “the Cabinet” means the Cabinet constituted under this Constitution;
      “the Commonwealth” means Trinidad and Tobago, any country to which section 18 applies and any dependency of any such country;

      “Court” means any court of law in Trinidad and Tobago other than a court martial and shall be construed as including the Judicial Committee;

      “financial year” means any period of twelve months beginning on the first day of January in any year or such other date as may be prescribed;

      “general election” means a general election of members to serve in the House of Representatives;

      “House” means either the House of Representatives or the Senate as the context may require;

      “Judge” includes the Chief Justice, a Judge of Appeal and a Puisne Judge;

      “Judicial Committee” means the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council established by the Judicial Committee Act, 1833 of the United Kingdom as from time to time amended by any Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom;

      “law” includes any enactment, and any Act or statutory instrument of the United Kingdom that before the commencement of this Constitution had effect as part of the law of Trinidad and Tobago, having the force of law and any unwritten rule of law;

      “oath” includes affirmation;

      “oath of allegiance” means the oath of allegiance set out in the First Schedule or such other oath as may be prescribed;

      “Parliament” means the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago;

      “parliamentary election” means an election of a member or members to serve in the House of Representatives;

      “prescribed” means prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament;

      “public office” means an office of emolument in the public service;

      “public officer” means the holder of any public office and includes any person appointed to act in any such office;

      “public service” means subject to the provisions of subsections (4) and (5), the service of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago 1[or of the Tobago House of Assembly established by section 3 of the Tobago House of Assembly Act,] in a civil capacity;

      “Service Commission” means the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Police Service Commission or the Teaching Service Commission;

      “session” means, in relation to a House, the sittings of that House commencing when it first meets after this Constitution comes into force or after the prorogation or dissolution of Parliament at any time, and terminating when Parliament is prorogued or is dissolved without having been prorogued;

      “sitting” means, in relation to a House, a period during which that House is sitting continuously without adjournment, and includes any period during which the House is in committee;

      “Trinidad and Tobago” has the meaning attributed to that expression in the Trinidad and Tobago Independence Act, 1962;

      “the former Constitution” means the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution set out in the Second Schedule to the Trinidad and Tobago (Constitution) Order-in-Council, 1962.

  2. In this Constitution—
    1. a reference to an appointment to any office shall be construed as including a reference to the appointment of a person to act in or perform the functions of that office at any time when the office is vacant or the holder thereof is unable (whether by reason of absence or infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) to perform the functions of that office; and
    2. a reference to the holder of an office by the term designating his office shall be construed as including a reference to any person for the time being lawfully acting in or performing the functions of that office.
  3. Where by this Constitution any person is directed, or power is conferred on any person or authority to appoint a person to perform the functions of an office if the holder thereof is unable to perform those functions, the validity of any performance of those functions by the person so directed or of any appointment made in exercise of that power shall not be called in question in any court on the ground that the holder of the office is not unable to perform the functions of the office.
  4. For the purposes of this Constitution a person shall not be considered to hold an office in the public service by reason only that—
    1. he is in receipt of a pension or other like allowance in respect of public service;
    2. he holds the office of—
      1. President;
      2. Speaker, President of the Senate, Deputy Speaker or Vice-President of the Senate, Minister, Parliamentary Secretary, member or temporary member of the Senate or member of the House of Representatives;
      3. Ombudsman or member of the Integrity Commission or member of any other Commission established by this Constitution;
      4. Judge or member of a Superior Court of Record or any special judicial tribunal established by Act of Parliament or member of the Public Service Appeal Board;
      5. member of any board, commission, committee or similar body, whether incorporated or not, established by any enactment;
      6. member of the personal staff of the President.
    3. he is—
      1. a consultant or adviser appointed for specific purposes; or
      2. a person appointed on contract for a period not exceeding five years.
  5. Where Parliament so provides, a person shall not be considered for the purposes of this Constitution or any part of this Constitution to hold office in the public service by reason only that he is the holder of a special office established by or under an Act.
  6. References in this Constitution to the power to remove a public officer from his office shall be construed as including references to any power conferred by any law to require or permit that officer to retire from the public service.
  7. Any power conferred by any law to permit a person to retire from the public service shall, in the case of any public officer who may be removed from office by some person or authority other than a Commission established by this Constitution, vest in the Public Service Commission.
  8. Nothing in subsection (6) shall be construed as conferring on any person or authority power to require a Judge or the Auditor General to retire from the public service.
  9. Where any power is conferred by this Constitution to make any proclamation, order, rules or regulations or to give any directions, the power shall be construed as including a power exercisable in like manner to amend or revoke any such proclamation, order, rules regulations or directions.