5 newly appointed ‘silks’ admitted to Inner Bar

The new Senior Counsels adorning into their “Silk” robes
The new Senior Counsels adorning into their “Silk” robes

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall and Attorneys-at-law Jamela Ali, Roysdale Forde, Timothy Jonas and Stanley Moore were all admitted to the Inner Bar on Tuesday at a special sitting of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature.

The sitting was presided over by Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Chief Justice Roxane George, Appeal Court Judges and Judges of the High Court.

Nandlall and Jonas were appointed Senior Counsel by President Dr Irfaan Ali after consultation with the Chancellor, with effect from October 30, 2020, while former President David Granger named Forde, Ali and Moore Senior Counsel on December 31, 2019.

Senior Counsel and former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran, presented Nandlall’s petition to be admitted to the Inner Bar before the Full Court, where he said there are no known reasons why the AG should not be admitted to the Inner Bar, since he has demonstrated incomparable passion for the law.

He noted that they are cognizant of the recent ruling by High Court Justice Nareshwar Harnanan in the case wherein Jonas challenged the appointment of Senior Counsel by the President. Based on the judgment, Ramkarran told the Court, while the appointment followed a specific process, the sitting of the Full Court cannot be regarded a merely formality.

“From the time Mr Nandlall was admitted to practice on 21st October, 1998, and began to appear in the Supreme Court soon thereafter, it was difficult to ignore him. Without an imposing stature or a resounding voice, not having yet developed his recognisable facility with the English language that he deploys today, he was nevertheless a young man with a noticeable passion for law and legal practice. He was made for the legal profession… Today, no one who reads his submissions or listens to his arguments fail to be impressed by the magnitude of his efforts and scholarship, the volume of authorities, the depth of analytical skills, and the compelling and persuasive conclusions, even if the courts do not always agree with him,” Ramkarran informed.

Nandlall received his secondary education at Queen’s College, and his tertiary education at the University of Guyana. He then went to the Hugh Wooding Law School where he received the LEC, and now serves as AG, Member of the Twelfth Parliament, Secretary of the Guyana Defence Board, and member of the National Security Council. He entered into practice in Guyana under the wings of the late Vic Puran, and now has his own Law Firm – Mohabir A Nandlall and Associates.

He served at Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs and Member of the Tenth Parliament from December 05, 2011 to May 18, 2015. He also served in the Ninth Parliament from 2006 to 2011.

He appeared in at least 15 reported cases, including the first appeal heard by the Caribbean Court of Justice (and first out of Guyana) – Brent Griffith vs Guyana Revenue Authority in 2006, Ramdass and Jairam of 2008, which saw the entire bench of the CCJ sitting to hear the landmark case on agreements of sale in immovable property; Rudisa Beverage vs State of Guyana, and other constitutional cases.

Meanwhile, Nandlall presented the petitions on behalf of the other Senior Counsels, and expressed his gratitude to the various mentors he had had had over the years. Nandlall, who has 22 years of service in the legal profession, credited everything he has achieved to his practice of the law.

“I learnt that the law is a jealous mistress, but I have learnt that when you serve her well, the law becomes a generous mistress. Everything I achieve is because of my practice of the law…the law is the greatest of all professions,” he added.

Nandlall called on lawyers to ensure that they understand the great responsibility that devolves upon them by merely being members of the legal fraternity. He reminded that lawyers have a responsibility to not use and abuse the law in pursuit of their sinister agendas.

The newly-minted Senior Counsel said that judges must be able to enforce their decisions, and rule in accordance with the law.

“I appeal to the profession to do as much pro bono work as possible. Throughout my career, I have done this,” he proffered.

In remarks before the Court, all the new Senior Counsel said receiving silk is the highest and greatest honour they could have had. They credited their support system for standing by them throughout the journey.

Chief Justice Roxane George highlighted that collectively, the five new senior counsels have over 150 years of experience in the practise of the law, and she impressed upon them that the honour of being bestowed with silk should not be taken lightly.

Meanwhile, Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, impressed that the title of Senior Counsel is an important one, and is only conferred after consultations with the Judiciary.