Nov 16, 2017 News
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has dismissed an appeal by Attorney General, (AG) Basil Williams, in a matter involving Dipcon Engineering Limited over an alleged breach of contract.
The Court also awarded costs to the Engineering Company which had previously secured a $446M judgment against the State.
The ruling was handed down yesterday by a panel of Judges headed by President of the CCJ, Sir Dennis Byron.
Solicitor-General, Kim Kyte, Principal Legal Advisor Judy Stuart-Adonis and Senior Legal Advisor Leslyn Noble, represented the Attorney General and the State, while Attorney Timothy Jonas represented Dipcon Engineering.
The case stemmed from a matter in which the Court of Appeal refused to allow an out-of-time appeal against the $446M judgment that was granted in favour of Dipcon Engineering, back in 2015.
According to the history of the case the current Attorney General, (Williams) claimed that he was unaware of the judgment in the matter which was filed during the PPP/C administration.
After discovering the judgment against the State, the AG filed the appeal at the Court of Appeal. This was about six months after the legally prescribed time for doing so.
The out of time appeal was consequently thrown out by former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh.
But the AG, obviously dissatisfied with the Court of Appeal, applied to the CCJ to have the matter heard.
In support of the case before the CCJ, the lawyers for Attorney General pointed out that there was good and substantial reason for the belated appeal.
The lawyers noted that the matter was handled by a private attorney and the State was not informed of the judgment until months after it was handed down.
But the CCJ in the ruling yesterday outlined that given the circumstances; the State should have applied for special leave under the CCJ rules.
“The appellant filed no application for special leave. It is a fair inference that the appellant equally appreciated that he would also need to apply for an extension of time within which to apply for special leave, since the refusal of the Court of Appeal …requires an application for special leave to be made within 42 days of the date of the judgment from which leave to appeal is sought.”
“The result is necessarily that this Court has no jurisdiction to allow the State to appeal to this Court against the Court of Appeal’s refusal to grant an extension of time for appealing the High Court decision.” Additionally, the CCJ stipulated that the appeal is solely a procedural issue which does not fall within section six of the Guyana CCJ Act.
“This appeal does not fall within section 6, because the matter in dispute on this appeal is solely a procedural issue that is whether the appellant should be granted an extension of time within which to appeal.”
The CCJ stated, further, that while this Court may in a proper case grant an extension of time for compliance with the rules or excuse delay, it does so in order to avert a clear miscarriage of justice.
“Litigants are not free to ignore time limits and then seek refuge behind the ‘overriding objective.’”
The appellant’s grounds of appeal make perfectly clear that the State appealed against the alleged error of the Court of Appeal in refusing to extend time for appealing.
The matter in which judgment was given against the appellant on October 21, 2015, and which would have brought an appeal within section 6, is not any longer in dispute,” the court said.
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