AG defends losing streak

first_imgState judgementsThere have been several criticisms of the State’s performance in Court as regards several legal matters that were recently lost, causing the Government to have to pay out millions of dollars.In this regard, Attorney General (AG) and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams, in defending himself and team, has asserted that he has won more cases than he has lost.Williams noted that many of the cases that he is likely to win have not yet come up for hearing in Court.He said on Monday that while his predecessor, Anil Nandall, has been critical of his work as Attorney General, Nandlall had himself done a poor job when he had held the Attorney General position for several years.Making reference to some issues inherited by the now Government, Williams said: “So there is nothing to show that Nandlall accomplished. What did he accomplish? Nothing! Let’s deal with the successes. If he is talking about the successes, that is one narrow aspect of the Ministry of Legal Affairs. I haven’t done any cases as Minister which Mr Nandlall won,” he explained.The AG was referring to the Constitutional case challenge wherein a citizen has sought the court’s interpretation of the provisions in the Guyana Constitution regarding the two-term limit for Guyana’s presidency, among several other top cases which are still pending.“For example, the Local Government Elections that were held… instead of filing an elections petition, he filed some other procedure; so there is no way he could win it, but it’s not coming up,” the AG added.Further, the AG reminded that the heads are not necessarily physically present for every case, but are represented by lawyers within the Chambers. “We have a number of lawyers. We have a Solicitor General and we have provisions for a Deputy, and you have a Principal Legal Advisor…the whole gamut. And these persons are those that represent the State and the AG Chambers,” he explained.The AG boasted that his Chambers had won several cases, but he was not able to provide substantiating evidence to support this claim.The AG also made known to the media that, as a private lawyer, he would have won several top cases. He said, “I’ve won so many cases in the assizes, there’s no other person sitting in this country in this current generation (who) could say that. But the DPP never came to the assizes and dealt with a case I was in…”Late last year, President David Granger came out in support of Williams, contending that the court cases he had lost were due mainly to inadequate representation by his legal team.He added that there are other cases which are pending, and the AG, like some other Ministers, has to make internal changes in the Ministry in order to get the best quality legal representation.“I do not feel that in the past we had the best representation. Some of the cases which we inherited were lost before we started because the representation was inadequate,” President Granger had said.However, in 2017, it was reported that $100 million had been included in the Legal Affairs Ministry’s budget for the retention of six attorneys to prosecute a number of high-profile cases.Government has, since its assumption to office, lost several cases at the level of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and in the local courts, to Opposition members, large companies, and even private citizens.President Granger had, in 2016, given the occupants of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre (CJRC) 48 hours to vacate the premises of Red House. This directive was described as “unconscionable and vindictive”.The Opposition later secured two conservatory High Court Orders blocking the State from ejecting the CJRC from the property, once the official residence of the late former President Dr Cheddi Jagan.Another case involved a number of farmers who were granted 50-year leases for State land located in the rear of Number 40 Village, West Coast Berbice. In March of 2016, those farmers received letters from the Mahaica/Mahaicony Abary/Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) informing them that President David Granger had cancelled their leases, and they must cease occupancy and return the land to the MMA/ADA.A group of the farmers filed a lawsuit, and on the same day as the Red House judgment, the acting Chief Justice, Madam Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire, ruled against the President’s revocation of rice farmers’ land leases, deeming it unconstitutional. She also ruled that the farmers were entitled to compensation from the State amounting to the sum of $300,000.Other cases included a $1.5 billion settlement with Demerara Distillers Limited over taxes, and the Chief Justice’s ruling in the Guyana Elections Commission matter, where a private citizen moved to the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of the President’s reasoning in regard to the chairman’s appointment.While the Court acknowledged that the President can determine who fits the bill of “fit and proper”, the Chief Justice overruled the President’s interpretation of the Constitution by finding that there was no particular preference for the appointment of persons who had served within the Judiciary.last_img

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