Nandlall appeals dismissal of law books defamation case

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has appealed the recent dismissal of his $125 million defamation suit against his successor Basil Williams SC, arguing that the decision was erroneous and misdirected in law.

In the Notice of Appeal to the Full Court which was filed last Friday, Nandlall advanced that Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry erred and misdirected herself in law when she dismissed and/or struck out the Appellant’s/Claimant’s Proceeding on the basis that the Appellant/Claimant failed to comply with a Case Management Timetable.

Nandlall was the claimant in the original proceedings while Williams was listed as the respondent.

The lawsuit stemmed from allegations made by Williams about Nandlall’s acquisition of Commonwealth Law Reports valued in excess of $2M while he served as the Attorney General under the former PPP/C government.

Justice Sewnarine-Beharry on November 6 threw out the case, owing to Nandlall’s attorneys not keeping case-management dates set by the court, in accordance with the new Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

According to the appeal, the former AG stated that the judge also erred and misdirected herself in law when she failed to “give effect or incorrectly applied the Overriding Objective of the CPR which is to enable the Court to deal with cases justly”. It was argued that the judge also erred and misdirected herself in law when she in the exercise of her discretion, resorted to the “ultimate and irreversible sanction of dismissal of the Appellant/ Claimant’s proceedings, rather than impose other sanctions available under the CPR and which could have been appropriately imposed in the circumstances”.

Nandlall stated further that the lawfulness of the exercise of the judge’s discretion is compounded and exacerbated by the fact that, this was a first instance of his non-compliance with timelines stipulated by the Court at the Case Management Conference; that in dictating timelines the judge abridged timelines under the CPR and/or set comparatively, short timeframes within which the Claimant was directed to file identified documents and that the judge failed or refused to take into account that the Appellant/Claimant had already prepared all the requisite documents and therefore same could have been filed and served upon the other side the very day, were leave granted by the Court to do so.

He said that the dismissal is erroneous, unlawful, oppressive, contrary to the rules of natural justice and violative of Article 144 (8) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, illegal, null, void and of no effect and bad in law.

The lawsuit stemmed from allegations made by Williams about Nandlall’s acquisition of Commonwealth Law Reports while he served as the Attorney General under the former PPP/C government.

Nandlall’s claim was filed on April 4 of this year. Some three weeks later, he was charged and placed before the Magistrates’ Court with fraudulently converting over $2 million worth of law reports.

That trial is still ongoing.

Nandlall was seeking:

(i) damages in excess of twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) for slander published on the 24th day of March, 2017, at a press conference hosted at the National Communication Network Inc.;

(ii) damages in excess of twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) for libel published on the 24th day of March, 2017, at a press conference hosted at the National Communication Network Inc.;

(iii) damages in excess of twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) for libel published in the Guyana Times Newspaper, at page 11, March 25th, 2017;

(iv) damages in excess of twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) for slander published during an outreach programme in Berbice, on the 26th March, 2017;

(v) damages in excess of twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) for libel published by Demerara-waves on the 27th day of March, 2017;

(vi) exemplary/aggravated damages;

(vii) interest on all damages awarded pursuant to Section 12 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act Chap 6:02; and

(viii) an injunction restraining the Defendant, by himself, his servants and/or agents from publishing, or caused to be published or saying or caused to be said or repeating of and concerning the Claimant, the offending statements in relation to the Commonwealth Law Reports.

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