Republic Bank Exodus will be allowed to play Kees Dieffenthaller’s Savannah Grass for the upcoming Panorama final, Justice Kevin Ramcharan has ruled.
Ramcharan gave the decision late last night during an emergency sitting of the High Court after the attorneys for Exodus filed an injunction against Pan Trinbago earlier in the day.
The decision came at the same time Republic Bank was hosting a lime at the Tunapuna panyard of the four-time Panorama champions.
Exodus’ manager Ainsworth Mohammed said the decision would have made last night’s lime “a little brighter” on the steps of the Hall of Justice around 9 pm, moments after Ramcharan had read out his judgement.
“We are actually very relieved but I must admit I felt it was a sad day and a sad week for pan and the steelband movement and we don’t gloat in that kind of thing. We don’t gloat in victories like this. We would like to see the steelband movement move forward with strength and that is the most important thing for us,” Mohammed said.
“We always knew that it was our right, privilege, whatever you want to call it, to change the song, the rules never precluded it, there was precedence for it. If it was such an important material part of the rules it should have been included in the rules that you are allowed to change or you are not allowed to change, that’s the way I see it.”
The Pan Trinbago rules are silent on the issue.
Senior Counsel Elton Prescott led the five-member Exodus team which included attorney Farai Masaisai.
“The basis of the arguments was really fairness. Fairness and natural justice. When you make a decision as an organisation, it is important that you consult your members and that is what the judge said,” Masaisai said afterwards.
“The basis of the judgement was that when you change your rules, consult your members. And even if they want to change it for 2020 they ought to consult the band members.”
Exodus had previously played Austin “Super Blue” Lyons’ Rag Storm for the preliminary and semifinal of this year’s Panorama competition. The band placed second to last after the semifinal with 265 points, 14 points behind current leaders and defending champions bpTT Renegades.
Mohammed said arranger Pelham Goddard has so far completed three minutes of the arrangement so far. An arrangement for the final is eight minutes long.
“It’s not fully arranged yet. We are about three minutes there but we are going to be there over the weekend. We will work all night tomorrow and all day Sunday and by the end of Sunday I am sure we will be near to seven minutes,” he said.
Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore was absent from last night’s hearing as she was at the THA Pan Champs finals in Tobago. Pan Trinbago vice president Carlan Harewood, treasurer Gerard Mendez and external relations officer Dane Gulston appeared on behalf of the executive. Attorney Christlyn Moore represented Pan Trinbago.
Contacted last night, Ramsey-Moore said Pan Trinbago would abide by the decision.
On Tuesday Exodus’ management decided to change the band’s tune of choice. However, on Wednesday Pan Trinbago barred the move after a unanimous vote by the executive during an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.
On Thursday, Exodus sent a pre-action protocol letter to Pan Trinbago saying the decision to bar the song was “arbitrary and not reasonable” as there was no rule stating explicitly that a band was allowed or prevented from changing its tune of choice.
Pan Trinbago responded to the pre-action protocol letter yesterday saying the organisation gave careful consideration to 13 matters before it and arrived at its decision.
While Exodus cited Solo Harmonites changing its Panorama tune of choice on two occasions, firstly in 1973 and then in 1983, Pan Trinbago said the organisation was only established in 1986 and therefore there was no precedent.
Ramcharan heard the matter at 5 pm yesterday before he called the parties back to give a decision at 8.39 pm.
Pan Trinbago's 13 points for denying Exodus request:
1. The possible effect of such a change if permitted on all other bands in your client's category, who could view this change as an unfair advantage being meted out to your client.
2. The emerging public support as well as public condemnation as indicated on social media at your client's telegraphed intention to change its tune of choice.
3. The possible consequent threats from these bands to launch a Panorama strike thereby putting the entire competition in jeopardy.
4. The possibility of Pan Trinbago Inc. being faced with multiple lawsuits from other bands in your category because of a perceived advantage being meted out to your client in the allowing of the change of tune at this stage or at all.
5. The administrative chaos that would ensue if Pan Trinbago Inc. were to face multiple lawsuits on the eve of the Panorama finals, any or all of which Pan Trinbago would not be in a financial position to litigate and which legal burden would have a knock-on effect on its ability to pay prize monies on time.
6. The possibility that the uncertainty around whether bands would boycott the competition would lead to a consequential drop in patron turnout, interest and revenues.
7. The loss of confidence in Pan Trinbago Inc. as a competent administrative body and in the integrity of the adjudication of the competition should your change in the tune of choice result in your client either placing higher or lower than it current rankings in the competition.
8. The effect of such a decision on the morale of players in other bands, both positive and negative.
9. The effect of such a decision on the patrons to the Panorama Finals and the community of steelband supporters.
10. That there was no similar application from any band in the history of Pan Trinbago Inc.'s management of the competition since its incorporation in 1986.
11. Nor had any other member bands raised either prior to or during the 2019 competition or at any time, their need for clarity on this rule or their desire to be able to change their tune of choice after the commencement of the competition;
12. The entire structure of the judging which is in part predicated on the assumption that the same song with be played by a competitor at all stages of the competition.
13. The skill and competence of arrangers who with the guidance of the adjudicators comments, re-tailor their arrangements to suit.