Jun 24, 2022 News
– asks court for extra time
Kaieteur News – The Government of Guyana has asked the High Court for more time to seek expert guidance on how to respond to a case filed by Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall over the extensive tax waivers which were granted to Exxon Mobil, its partners and affiliates.
In January, the Kaieteur News Publisher filed an action to challenge the Petroleum Agreement, dated June 27, 2016 between the Guyana Government and the oil companies. According to Lall the agreement between the oil company and the government grants exemptions to persons other than licensees, which violate the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, the Financial Administration (and Audit) Act and the Constitution.
Lall’s application raises several contentions for the court’s consideration including whether the agreement between the Government of Guyana and ExxonMobil are subject to the principles of private law or public law; whether the acts of the Minister of Natural Resources and certain sub-articles of the Petroleum Agreement were ultra vires and in breach of sections 10 and 51 of Petroleum Exploration and Production Act (PEPA), sub-sections 1A and 1B of section 6 of the Financial Administration (and Audit) FAA; and Whether upon its proper interpretation the PEPA permits the payment of taxes due on behalf of licensees.
The Attorney General (AG) of Guyana, Anil Nandlall who is the State’s legal representative has been listed as a respondent in the matter. Parties involved in the matter have filed their initial submissions in response to the case.
However earlier this week, a Notice of Application (NOA) was filed in the High Court by attorneys representing the office of the Attorney General to seek an extension in the time granted by the Court to respond to Lall’s case.
According to the court document seen by this newspaper, the NOA in the name of Ocelisa Marks, Assistant State Solicitor attached to the Office of the Attorney General filed the application asking for more time. The extra time is to help the legal team address the “highly technical” and “complex questions” raised in Lall’s case
The document detailed that case raises highly technical and complex questions of tax law (which itself is a highly complex, and is a specialised area of law) and contract law, which must be carefully interrogated to allow the Court to make an informed decision.
The NOA went on to state that since the filing of Lall’s Fixed Date Application (FDA), and the Defence on behalf of the Attorney General, the Chambers of the Attorney General has made and continued to make concerted efforts to fully appraise itself on the issues raised.
The document explained that this process includes the identification and interrogation of tax regimes in several statutory instruments. Further, it stated that: “as part of the process of appraising itself of the tax regimes and the issues raised in this [FDA], the Attorney General is in the process of soliciting independent expert advice from a firm which specialises in tax law.”
The NOA noted that this guidance is critical in allowing the Attorney General to prepare submissions. Further it stated that at the time of the drafting of the NOA, the Attorney General was unable to complete the process of obtaining the aforementioned expert advice. In the circumstances, the AG office said it believes that additional time is required to allow the lawyers to obtain the expert guidance being sought.
“The information which the Attorney General is seeking will be laid before the court in the form of submissions which will allow the Court to properly address its mind to the issues to make a decision,” the NOA detailed.
Added to this, the lawyers representing the AG insisted that the application for time will not cause any unjust prejudice to Lall’s case; instead, it will assist the Court with ensuring that justice is determined on the merits of the issues raised in the case.
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