AG blames staff for losing case

first_imgJudicial Review Act– denies flouting Chief Justice’s orderHinting that an approach to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) over the Judicial Review Act case he lost was considered, Attorney General Basil Williams is distancing himself from suggestions that he was involved in flouting a court order.Attorney General Basil WilliamsAt a press conference on Monday, the Attorney General was asked about the case, which saw his predecessor Anil Nandlall filing contempt of court proceedings against him when he issued a different commencement order to the one ordered by Chief Justice (acting) Roxane George. And he pointed his finger at his leave taking staff.The gazetted order bringing the Judicial Review Act into force“That is a mix up. What happened really was that the law officer who was dealing with the matter went on leave,” he explained. “Then the other one who was dealing with it subsequently went on maternity leave. So there was a little mix up… there was an interim stay granted when the applicant Nandlall gave an undertaking. And that was not brought to the attention of me or the chief parliamentary counsel.”“When Justice of Appeal Rafik Khan, as he then was, gave his judgement, we got the order on the [August] 14th. Court of Appeal sent the order on 14th August and I signed the order on the 15th August. And it was published on the [August] 16th. But because the knowledge of an interim stay was not known, the advice from the parliamentary division was that since July 31 had passed, then you had to use within a reasonable time.”Williams further reiterated his view that the executive had the right to determine when to operationalise the Act. Williams went on to make it clear that approaches to the CCJ were at one point on the table.“We believe, as we said in our case, that because of the separation of powers, the decision to operationalise is really the decision of the executives. And really and truly, it should not be within the purview of the Judiciary to tell the executive to operationalise an Act.”“The Chief Justice did not agree. She ruled. We appealed it. We applied for a stay. Even after Justice of Appeal made his decision, we also appealed. And we asked for a stay too, so the matter could be ventilated before the CCJ. It is our right to use up the hierarchical system that is our justice system. But at no point did we refuse to implement the CJ order.”After court battles and much criticism, Government had finally brought the Judicial Review Act – which will allow members of the public to seek redress for court judgements and decisions by public officials – into force.An order signed by Attorney General Basil Williams was gazetted recently, revoking a previous January 2019 commencement order. According to the new order, the Act took effect from July 31, 2018.Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George had ordered the AG to enforce the Judicial Review Act by July 31, 2018. At the time, she was ruling on a legal action brought against the State by Nandlall.Nandlall subsequently approached the courts to file contempt proceedings against his successor. The former AG had contended that the delay to bring the Act into force was in violation of the Chief Justice’s ruling.last_img

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