Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, has refuted allegations by the Guyana Bar Association that he attacked members of the Bar in his recent remarks on private lawyers representing the State.
The Bar Association had called out the Attorney General on his statement in which he referenced the conduct of private lawyers representing the State as criminal.
The AG was commenting on the issue of cases outsourced from his Chambers to private lawyers. Williams had told a Press Conference, earlier this month that on many occasions attorneys with these cases in their possession have not been forthcoming with information.
The AG called for legal action to be taken against lawyers for withholding information. However, the Bar Association contended that lawyers at the private Bar have always conducted litigation for the State of Guyana and throughout the Commonwealth, and continue to do so today.
Responding to the contentions of the Bar Association, Williams says that the issue at hand is not the outsourcing of cases but the failure to inform the Attorney General’s Chambers in a timely manner of outsourced cases in the possession of Attorneys.”
According to Williams, the Attorney General’s Chambers under the last administration, outsourced several cases to private Attorneys. Those Attorneys refused to hand over the cases and the Attorney General’s Chambers only became aware of those cases after judgment was passed.
In this regard, he referenced the Dipcon case in 2016, where a $400 million judgment was made against the Government—- the Attorney General was only informed three months after judgment was passed.
Additionally, Williams contends that any prudent lawyer would, upon a change of Government, see it fit to communicate to the Attorney General’s Chambers if they are in possession of any Government matter outsourced to them by former Attorney General.
“The fact that Attorneys choose to retain possession of matters even after the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs wrote letters and made a public announcement that they must relinquish those matters, demonstrates an intention to injure the State.
“It is simply a matter of honesty and courtesy, after all, it should be up to the new Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs to determine if he wishes them to continue being Counsel on the matter.”
Williams noted, too, that letters were written after the Dipcon case to the following persons on March 1, 2016 requesting that if they were retained to represent the Attorney General in any matter to provide the chambers with a list of matters and copies of the files to attorneys, Roysdale Forde, Ashton Chase, SC, Bernard De Santos, SC, Manoj Narayan, Neil Boston, SC, Ralph Ramkarran, SC, Robin Stoby, SC, and Sase Gunraj.
“To date, only Mr Ralph Ramkarran, SC, Mr. Nigel Hughes and Mr. Neil Boston, SC have responded to the letter and the urgent call by the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs.”
Hughes said that he was never given a case.
“None of the abovementioned lawyers responded that they had Toolsie Persaud Limited-v-AG, which the Court awarded a judgment of $1.7 billion against the State.”
It is on this basis, that the Attorney General said that he believes such lawyers should be questioned by the police and charges brought against them.
Added to that Williams said that as Attorney General he is the Head of the Bar and has and will always hold the Bar and its members in the highest regard.
“However, as the Chief Government Legal Advisor, he has a responsibility to the President, the Government and more importantly to the people of Guyana, to give the best legal representation possible.
“Legal representation of the highest standard cannot be possible when cases, outsourced to private Attorneys by the former Attorney General of the last administration, are kept in the bosom of those Attorneys unknown to the new Attorney General.”
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