State counsel was in court for another matter during judgment in TPL case –AG’s Chambers

A state counsel was present in court on the day that a judgment of $1.7b was handed down by Justice Brassington Reynolds in favour of Toolsie Persaud Limited (TPL) over land at Turkeyen but she was there in relation to another case, according to a statement on Monday from the Attorney General’s Chambers.

The statement from the AG’s Chambers came in response to a April 26th news item in Stabroek News headlined `Gov’t to appeal $1.7b damages award to TPL’ in which it was stated that Attorney General Basil Williams had said that the judgment would be appealed and that his Chambers had no knowledge of the case nor was there a file on it.

The news item pointed out that Marks had been present in court during the almost two-hour delivery of the judgment except for a few minutes during which she stepped outside before returning shortly after.

In its statement on Monday, the AG’s Chambers said it wished to respond to what it said was a “scandalous and reckless report”.  The statement said that  “The Chambers refutes the allegations leveled therein which infer that State Counsel Ms. Tracy Marks has any form or knowledge of or participated in any way in the aforementioned matter. The allegation leveled in the Stabroek Newspaper is made without any valid documentary evidence.

“State Counsel Tracy Marks was briefly present in Court 7 of the Supreme Court of the High Court on the 20th April, 2018 where Justice Brassington Reynolds presided. Her presence at court was to meet with the Honourable Justice Reynolds and/or his Registrar to address some concerns on a matter which was recently reassigned to her, namely, ABDUL KHAN v REGISTRAR OF DEEDS, REGISTRAR SUPREME COURT Action # 108-W-2016 which was scheduled for the said date.

“Paragraph 4 of the said Article states, `though this newspaper is unable to say why, Justice Brassington Reynolds momentarily paused the proceedings to enquire from counsel after she had gotten up, whether she was leaving’.

“We refute these allegations and do indicate that the Honourable Justice Reynolds inquired whether she had spoken to his Registrar and was able to address her concerns of which she responded in the negative.

“As such, she returned to the Court room soon thereafter to await the conclusion of the matter being heard and engaged the court on the concerns in her matter – Abdul Khan”.

The statement added that no appearance was entered on the record by Marks neither was she robed nor seated at the bar table.  It noted that the Attorney appearing on record in these proceedings on behalf of the Attorney General’s Chambers was Ashton Chase, SC.

The AG’s Chambers has come under scrutiny over its handling of several matters which have seen significant awards made against the state. It is also unclear why nearly three years after taking office it would have been unaware of the TPL case. The dispute between the State and TPL which dates back to 1987, had been before the court for a decade. The writ was filed in 2008. Additionally, an aspect of the dispute had engaged the attention of the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2008 as well.

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