It seems as if the blundering by the Attorney General’s Chambers will cost the government money. There were articles in the two main newpapers where (a) the government will appeal the $1.7 billion dollar judgment awarded to Toolsie Persaud. The Attorney General is contending that his Chambers had no knowledge of the case, nor did there exist any file on it, and (b) an Essequibo rice miller Arnold Sankar obtained $99 million involving a judgment against the Guyana Rice Develpment Board. It seems as if the reason for the massive judgment is due to the failure of the AG’s department to file a defence in due and proper time, and although extension of time was granted by the court, the lawyers in that government department failed to comply.
The ‘slip ups’ by the Attorney General’s Chambers are too common and one wonders if the Granger administration cannot do better when there are so many outstanding lawyers in Georgetown. I recall the AG’s Chambers filed wrong documents in an attempt to appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in a case involving a Trinidadian contractor, Dipcon. This error caused the state to be saddled with a judgment in excess of US$2,000,000. I hope that there will be no blunder in the filing of the appeal in the Toolsie Persaud case, which AG Williams said he will lodge.
Some of the errors of the AG’s office include attempts to compulsorily acquire plots of land from the Beharry Family and Clarissa Riehl on Carmichael Street; violation of the constitution by dismissing the Registrar of Deeds, who was appointed by the Judicial Service Commission; ill-advising the President on many issues, including the appointment of the Chairman of Gecom; unilaterally dismissing senior personnel, including the Solicitor General and Deputy Solicitor General.
Another major issue is that Attorney General Williams is making statements that Guyana does not have to get the approval of the Council of Legal Education in the Caribbean to set up a law school in Guyana. His statement was issued after CLE Chairman, Reginald Armour, SC said that Guyana was never granted permission to establish a law school.
One wonders why there are so many shortcomings from the Attorney General’s Chambers, where there are several full-time attorneys, as well as advisors, including former CCJ Judge, Duke Pollard, Appellate Court Judge (retired) Claudette Singh, Harold Lutchman, and others.
It is anticipated that there will be court battles involving the government, including criminal prosecutions, which will need knowledgeable and experienced attorneys. The government recently retained two Barbadian Queen’s Counsel, Hal Gollop and Richard Thorne, to represent the administration in the third term appeal before the CCJ, and it is likely that it may have to seek the services of attorneys in private practice, be it local or overseas, and this will no doubt cost the taxpayers a large amount of money.