Aug 12, 2018 News
Lawyers are calling on Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams to respect to the recent ruling of the Court and make the Judicial Review Act, (JRA) operational.
The JRA which was passed in Parliament in 2010 makes provision for citizens to challenge actions of public authorities on the grounds that their actions are unlawful, illegal, and capricious, contrary to some written law, ultra vires or violate the rules of natural justice.
Under the Act, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs is empowered to issue the publication of an order signed by him in the official Gazette to bring Judicial Review into operation.
Williams has however been accused of pussyfooting on the issue. His failure to act has resulted in court action being brought against him by Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall.
So far, both the High Court and Appeal Court have agreed with Nandlall’s call to make the act operational and have dispensed decisions towards the enactment of the JRA.
In her ruling Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George had ordered the AG to make the act operational by July 31.
However, the AG moved to the Court of Appeal to challenge the decision and stay the order. His application for a stay of the order was thrown out last week, leaving him with no other choice than to bring the Act into operation.
Nandlall has already threatened further legal action against Williams – contempt of court proceedings – if he continues to refuse to bring the Act into operation,
But lawyers are calling for Williams to respect the ruling and enact the JRA.
In an invited comment, Chartered Accountant and Attorney–at–law, Christopher Ram, noted that the ruling of the court confirms the need for the JRA.
Ram said that it is only right that as a senior legal officer the AG abides by the ruling of the Court.
“Judicial Review is not even about us as lawyers, but for members of the public to seek redress against perceived violations committed against them by a public official. So I really don’t understand why the AG would not want to enact such vital piece of law.”
Attorney-at-law Sase Gunraj shared similar views. Gunraj pointed to the importance of the JRA in the area of public law.
The JRA is a necessity for citizens to keep officials of the State accountable for their actions. By failing to activate the Act, the Attorney General puts citizens who have been wronged by the State at a disadvantage of challenging the perceived wrong in the Court
Gunraj noted that the absence of an operational JRA stymies a vital area of law and has resulted in a number of procedural hurdles.
Earlier this year, the Bar Council of the Bar Association of Guyana echoed similar sentiments on the matter.
The GBA noted that the implementation of the Act fills a gap in the new Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) launched in 2017.
Several procedural remedies for the CPR are contained in the Judicial Review Act.
“In a case where a public officer/authority is challenged, the Judicial Review Act and the CPR are both necessities.”
Further outlining their concerns, the Bar Council noted that the issue of the implementation of the Act was previously raised with Williams.
The Council said that issue was raised at a meeting with the Attorney General on July 22, 2017 and by way of letter dated November 15, 2017, requesting the urgent implementation of the Judicial Review Act.
The Council therefore stressed that the implementation of the Judicial Review Act is of vital importance to good public administration in a democratic society, allowing citizens ample remedies against the State and leveling the playing field.
“The Bar Council says that it looks forward to the speedy implementation of the Act,” the Association said.
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