Nandlall to file contempt of court proceedings against AG over Judicial Review Act

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Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall says he will tomorrow (Thursday) file contempt of court proceedings against incumbent Attorney General (AG), Basil Williams for not bringing into force the Judicial Review Act (JRA), even though acting Chief Justice Roxane George ruled that the AG must enforce the Act by July 31, 2018.

According to Nandlall, Williams, who was unsuccessful in his bid to file a stay of execution of Justice George’s decision, is refusing to be served a copy of Chief Justice George’s Order.

“All attempts to serve a copy of Chief Justice George’s Order upon Attorney General Basil Williams, compelling him to bring the Judicial Review Act into force by the 31st of July, 2018, have thus far proven futile” he said.

The law of contempt requires the Order of Court which is being enforced by contempt proceedings to be served personally on the contemnor.

Alternatively, the law requires evidence to be produced to establish to the satisfaction of the Court that the contemnor is avoiding service but knows of the Order of Court.

With respect to the latter however, Nandlall posited that on Wednesday afternoon “a Marshall of the High Court attempted to serve him a copy of the Order at his Office at the Attorney General Chambers at 95 Carmichael Street, Georgetown but was informed by his Personal Assistant that the Attorney General cannot be served personally, by a Marshall with an Order of Court. Yesterday, a copy of the said Order was served by a Marshall on the Personal Assitant of the Attorney General at the AG Chambers. On Monday, a copy of the said Order was also served on a clerk at the Attorney General’s Chambers, as well.”

Moreover, Nandlall outlined that the Solicitor General and two other lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office were present in Court when Chief Justice George made her Order.

Attorney General & Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams

According to Nandlall, the AG is acting above the law by not enforcing the JRA and refusing to be served by the High Court of Law.

“It is clear that the Attorney General believes that he is above the law so he is avoiding personal service. However, the law is not an ass. The arms of the law are very long. I have outlined above sufficient evidence which will establish to any Court that the Attorney General is aware of the Order of Justice George and that he is avoiding personal service of the same” Nandlall reasoned.

“Therefore, I have accumulated enough evidence in relation to service and the contempt of court proceedings will be filed tomorrow” said the People’s Progressive Party Parliamentarian.

Nandlall continued “The Attorney General is the principal legal advisor to the Government of Guyana. He is also ex oficio, supposedly, the Head of the Guyana Bar. It is unfortunate that a person holding such Offices is demonstrating such gross disrespect for the judiciary and the rule of law, generally. It is impossible for one to forget the abuse and disrespect meted out to Justice Franklin Holder in open court not so long ago by the very Attorney General”.

In December 2017, the acting Chief Justice (CJ) had granted an Order Rue Nisi of Mandamus, directing Williams to show cause why the said Order Nisi should not be made absolute.

On May 28, 2018 the CJ, after reviewing all the affidavits’ filed by both sides and legal arguments, made the Order Rule Nisi absolute and directed the Legal Affairs Minister to bring the Judicial Review Act into force.

Williams later mounted an appeal on June 13, 2018, having noted that there were serious issues regarding “judicial interference” with the powers of the Executive and the Court by the May 28, 2018 decision.

He contended that the Judiciary attempted to govern from the bench and to usurp the power which was explicitly vested in the Legal Affairs Minister which he said was in breach of the doctrine of the separation of powers.

Justice Rafiq Khan, who presided of the stay of execution, determined that while there was separation of powers, the three arms of Government do not exist in separate bubbles. He highlighted that when Bills are passed in Parliament and are assented to, they become part of Guyana’s laws.

The Appellate Judge noted that the JRA would seek to modernise the “archaic” Crown Office system and harmonise it with systems and procedures of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

The Court explained that it would be sensible to explain that the JRA was not enforced owing to Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) not being in place, but this was no longer the case.

Justice Khan also observed that the applicant, the AG, did not explain how he would have suffered “irreversible hardship” if a stay was not granted.

The Judge surmised in the case disposal that the applicant did not satisfy the Court that his appeal has any reasonable prospect of success.

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