Lawyers who filed election petitions are in “disarray” – Nandlall

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Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall says the lawyers who filed the election petition to challenge results of the March 2 elections are in disarray. The AG made the disclosure during an interview with the Department of Public Information on Friday.

He explained that at the case management hearing on Tuesday, APNU/AFC attorney, Mr. Mayo Robertson asked the High Court to dismiss the AG’s application to have the election petition thrown out. Mr Robertson claimed that the AG did not follow the proper procedure to file the application.

However, the AG pointed out that the elections rules and regulations set out in the National Assembly Validity of Elections Act are silent. What lawyers have done over the last 100 years, is use the mode of procedure that exists under the current High Court rules to strike out an election petition, he explained.

However, AG Nandlall said he found the request by Mr. Robertson absurd since the APNU+AFC used the same High Court rules to get leave to enter the election petition, a precedent before the election petition can be issued.

“It is clear that the lawyers who are appearing in these petitions, the petitioners are in disarray because one is objecting to exactly what the other did and they are on the same side. So clearly there is an implosion, there is some degree of confusion within and among ranks of the lawyers,” AG Nandlall said.

He said the confusion is again reflected in the fact that a respondent in the petition, former President Mr. David Granger, gave notice that he would not be contesting or opposing the petition. The AG said it is odd since Mr. Granger’s lawyers are the ones who named him as a respondent.

“Is it that they did not consult him before they named him a respondent? Is it that they are confused on what the law says on the issue and how the procedure should be approached? Is it that they are not speaking to each other or clients? Or is it that they do not understand the law?” the Attorney General asked.

The Attorney General said he suspects the move by Mr. Granger’s lawyers is to overshadow the fact that he was served with the election petition outside the time set for the service for one of the petitions. That specific petition, the AG said, is being challenged before the High Court.

“All the case law authority that we have found existing throughout the commonwealth over the last 100 years, they say uniformly and consistently that once a petition is not served in the manner provided for by the rules then the court has no jurisdiction to hear that petition,” the AG explained.

He added that, “Perhaps they think that to circumvent this identified and proven deficiency they can now get Mr. Granger to file this document to say I am not opposing and if that is their thinking, they are wrong because whether a person is a proper respondent and whether that respondent being named can exercise a right, which the law gives him not to oppose are mutually exclusive concepts,” the AG stated.

The court has fixed Monday, November 30, 2020 for the continuation of submissions on the application to strike out the election petition on the grounds of non-service.