Justice Cummings-Edwards had set a date for decision in Seafield farmers case, AG asked for additional time

Dear Editor,

I refer to the news item `CJ to rule December 11 on Seafield farmers challenge’ (SN October 26th) and crave your indulgence to offer some clarification on certain issues contained therein which, as stated, seems to suggest some level of dereliction of duty on the part of the Honourable Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) in her role as Chief Justice (ag) as she then was.

The article purports to report on developments in a matter engaging the High Court in which a group of farmers have sought recourse against a decision of His Excellency, President Granger. At paragraphs 10 – 11 of that article the following passage appears:

“Some weeks ago, they issued an appeal for Chancellor Cummings- Edwards, who had completed hearing arguments in the case to deliver the awaited ruling.

“Some six months after final arguments were submitted, the Chancellor, who presided over the matters when she acted as Chief Justice, was yet to deliver her ruling.” This passage, as you may appreciate, gives the reader the impression that the Honourable Madame Justice Cummings-Edwards has failed to perform her judicial functions in a timely manner or at all, thus resulting in detriment to the litigants.

Permit me, therefore to give a true picture of the progression of the events of this case. The Court’s record (A copy of that record is hereto attached for your consideration) will attest to the fact that the matters in question were set for decision before the Hon. Madame Justice Cummings-Edwards, Chief Justice

(ag) as she then was, on 15th March, 2017 at 3:00pm. The Parties to that Action were notified ahead of time, not only of the date, but also of the fact that the matters were set for decision.

On the 15th March, 2017 at 3:00pm the Honourable Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams, S.C. for the Respondents and Mr. Mohabir Anil Nandlall for the Applicants appeared and the Attorney General made an oral application for leave to prepare and submit further written submissions. Her Honour gave leave to do so in 14 days with leave to the Applicants to reply to those submissions within 7 days thereafter. This being the case, the matters were adjourned to 19th April, 2017 at 11:00 am for report on the further submissions.

In the intervening period, Madame Justice Cummings- Edwards was appointed Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary and her Honour, Madame Justice Roxane George was appointed Acting Chief Justice.

On 19th April, 2017, the Respondents laid over their submissions. Mr. Rajendra Jaigobin appeared for the Applicants and the matters were called before the Hon. Madame Justice Roxane George, Chief Justice (ag) who now had conduct of the trials of these Actions. Further leave was granted to the Applicants to lay over their Submissions in Reply on or before 28th April, 2017. The parties were there informed that notices would be sent to inform them of the date set for decision.

On 19th October, the Chief Justice (ag) set a date for report and notices were sent for the parties to appear on October 25th, 2017. On October 25th Counsel for both sides appeared and a date was set for decision after the  parties agreed to rely on the submissions made.

At no time did her Honour the Chancellor fail and/or neglect to give due attention to these or any matters over which she presided.

Yours faithfully,

Sueanna Lovell

Registrar of the Supreme Court

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