Appeal Court questions Full Court’s Jurisdiction over GECOM’s injunction matter

DPI, Guyana, Friday, April 3, 2020

Appeal Court Judge Justice Dawn Gregory-Barnes this morning said the Full Court of Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George and Naresh Harnanan may not have had jurisdiction in the first place to hear the appeal by the opposition PPP on the Jurisdiction matter of the High Court in the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) injunction matter.

Justice Gregory-Barnes put the question to the attorney for the PPP Douglas Mendes, during his submission in the Application for leave to file an appeal made by private citizen Ulita Grace Moore.

On Tuesday, March 31, Chief Justice George ruled that the High Court of Justice Franklyn Holder did not have the jurisdiction to hear the injunction application brought by Moore against the elections body, which prevented it from carrying out a recount of all votes cast in the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.

Today, Justice Gregory Barnes said her questions were tied to whether the jurisdiction in such an appeal matter ought to have been within the purview of the Appellate Court and if the Full Court had the jurisdiction to make the orders and adjudicate the matter.

According to Justice Barnes, Guyana’s laws lay out the appellate tier of appeals.

“My concern is whether the nature of what was before the court was in fact held within the jurisdiction of the Full Court. I say that to ask whether it was not the Court of Appeal to have entertained the appeal on the jurisdiction.”

She cited Article 133 of the Constitution, which sets out the position of appeals and provides details on questions on the interpretation of the constitution, which are to be decided by the high court and where appeals are to be made to the Appellate Court.

“My question is whether the full court which, traditionally has been a court to deal with interlocutory appeals indeed is the court to entertain an appeal that concerns constitutional questions. I believe that all the parties say that they are some constitutional questions involved.”

The court will hand down its decision on Sunday, April 5.

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