By Rehanna Ramsay
Attorney General, Basil Williams has lost in his bid to secure a stay for an order by Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George in relation to the Judicial Review Act (JRA).
Yesterday, Justice of Appeal (Ag) Rafiq Khan dismissed an application filed by the Attorney General to stay the execution of a decision of Chief Justice George, in which she issued an order compelling him to bring the JRA into effect.
The JRA which was passed in Parliament in 2010 makes provision for citizens to challenge actions of public officials and authorities.
Under the Act, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs is solely empowered to issue a signed order in the official Gazette to bring Judicial Review into operation.
However, Williams, the subject Minister, has been accused of refusing to bring the act into effect.
Williams’s failure to make the JRA effective, resulted in a legal challenge in the High Court, mounted by PPP Executive and former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall.
In an application filed last year, Nandlall asked the Court for an Order Nisi of Mandamus, compelling Williams to bring into operation the JRA of 2010.
In his arguments, Nandlall said that Judicial Review is that area of the law which guards against an abuse of power by any public officer, including ministers of government, any public authority or statutory tribunal.
According to Nandlall, by refusing to bring the Act into operation, Williams hinders members of the citizenry aggrieved by any such matters from effectively mounting a challenge in the Court.
He noted too that the new Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) elaborately sets out the procedure by which the remedies contained in the judicial review can be applied for, in the court. Nandlall had stressed that the issue has become even more complex with a recent ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The CCJ in a ruling in the case of the Medical Council of Guyana vs. Jose Ocampo Trueba outlined that Guyana’s Civil Procedure Rules 2016 should be applied to all civil proceedings.
Last May, the acting Chief Justice had issued a ruling which ultimately compelled Williams to bring into effect the Judicial Review Act.
Justice George enforced the Order of Nisi Mandamus requested by Nandlall and directed the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs to bring the Judicial Review Act into force by July 31, 2018.
In her ruling, Justice George noted among other things the direct link between the JRA and the new Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).
She noted that the JRA contained the procedures by which remedies can be accessed under the Act; one is a complement to the other. The CPR became effective in 2017. However, instead of adhering to the order of the CJ, Williams moved to the Appeal Court to challenge the decision.
In his application before the Appeal Court, Williams had asked the Court to consider that the CJ had misdirected herself on a number of issues and legal points as it relates to the matter.
In the substantive application, Williams asked the Court to overturn the order. However, since the appeal motion does not operate as a stay of the CJ’s order, the AG filed an interim application to stay the order. This was heard by Justice of Appeal (Ag) Khan, who yesterday dismissed the application for a stay of execution.
In the ruling, the Judge also ordered the AG to pay Nandlall $150,000 in costs. In a statement, following the ruling, Nandlall noted that he will pursue further action in relation to the matter.
He said that if the AG continues to refuse to comply with the Chief Justice’s order, contempt of Court proceedings will be filed against him.
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