May 06, 2018 News
By Abena Rockcliffe
The Office of the Attorney General (AG) is looking to do house cleaning. Three years after assuming Office, Attorney General Basil Williams has now made the critical decisions to get a handle on all the existing court cases against the State.
It has been reported that under the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic government, several litigations that were brought against the state were outsourced to various private lawyers. This is while Anil Nandlall was Attorney General.
The present regime knows not much of what transpired as regard the outsourcing. Williams spoke of this “travesty” many times before. However, it was only last week that he decided to issue a call to all attorneys who may have been contracted to make representation on behalf of the Chambers to report any such case. An advertisement to this effect was published.
The Advertisement read, “The Attorney General’s Chambers hereby requests that all Attorneys-at-law in receipt/ possession and/or making representations on or behalf of the Chambers not authorized by the current Attorney General do immediately notify the Chambers of the said matters. You are asked to give a written report to the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senior Counsel Basil Williams S.C M.P regarding the status of each case for which you have conducted…”
Under Williams’ current stint, the State paid several billions of dollars out as a result of in, and out of court settlements. Most of these cases were inherited from the previous administration. But in most instances, it is either that the government loses the case or decides to settle even before it goes to court.
In at least one case, it is the combination of both losing and settling. That is the matter involving Guytrac. Read more: https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2018/05/04/govt-agrees-to-pay-guytrac-226m-in-yet-another-out-of-court-settlement/.
Recently, there was another judgment handed down for a case the AG said he didn’t know about.
High Court Judge Brassington Reynolds ordered the Government of Guyana to pay $1.7B in damages, as well as $500,000 for the defendant’s (Toolsie Persaud Limited) court cost, along with interest. Williams said that Government will appeal the ruling.
The dispute between the State and TPL was over the company’s ownership of land at Turkeyen, including the site of the MovieTowne cinema complex and shopping mall.
The case dates back to 1987 and has been before the court for a decade. The writ was filed in 2008. Additionally, an aspect of the dispute had engaged the attention of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in 2008 as well.
But Williams said that his Chambers had no knowledge of the case, nor did there exist any file on it.
Williams told reporters, “We had asked for a list of these (outsourced cases) from the Chief Justice and the Court of Appeal. And we had also asked certain practitioners whether they had any cases for us.”
He said that when those queries were made, no one brought to his attention the TPL matter.
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