Attorney General says CCJ cannot hear PPP’s appeal

—lacks jurisdiction in the matter

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams, SC., has asked the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to reject the request by the People’s Progressive Party for special leave to appeal, as that court lacks jurisdiction in the particular matter.

The AG is the fifth named respondent in the PPP’s application to the CCJ, which has asked the Trinidad-based appellate court to overturn the ruling of Guyana’s Court of Appeal on Monday, June 22, stating that the court here lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case.

The Appeal Court through Justices Brassington Reynolds and Dawn Gregory ruled that it had the jurisdiction to hear an application filed by private citizen Eslyn David, which prevented the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from making a declaration of results of the March 2, General and Regional elections using fraudulent votes tabulated from the National vote Recount.

The Court had interpreted the words “more votes cast” in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution to mean “more valid votes cast” in relation to the March 2, polls, and ordered that GECOM considers the ruling when determining the finality of the elections.

The PPP is, however, challenging that decision and is asking the CCJ to allow the final declaration of the results to be based on votes that were found not to be credible.

In his Affidavit to the CCJ today, the AG said that according to Article 177 (4) of the Constitution, any decision made by the Court of Appeal shall be final. He relayed that the article empowers the Court of Appeal to adjudicate matters of the type described in (177) to the exclusion of all other courts including the CCJ, which is the final appellate court of Guyana.

Further, the Affidavit shows that the power of parliament to establish the CCJ as the final court of appeal for Guyana is found in Article 123 (4) of the Constitution which states that “Parliament may make such provision as it deems fit authorising any court established or to be established, as the final court of appeal for the Caribbean to be the final court for Guyana.”

The Attorney General pointed out to the CCJ that its jurisdiction is established under Part II of the Caribbean Court of Justice Act Cap 3:07.

“However, despite the jurisdiction conferred in the CCJ under Part II of the CCJ Act sec 4 (3) of the CCJ Act, Cap 3:07 expressly limits the appellate jurisdiction of this court. Section 4 (3) states that “nothing in this Act shall confer jurisdiction on the court to hear matters in relation to any decision of the Court of Appeal which at the time of entry into force of this Act was declared to final by any law.”

He explained further that the memorandum of the CCJ under Part II of the Caribbean Court of Justice Bill No. 15 of 2004, which explains the purpose for the provisions in the Act, states that “Clause 4 for both the original and appellate jurisdiction and, inter alia, ensures the CCJ would have no jurisdiction in relation to any decision of the Court of Appeal.

The CCJ on Tuesday said that it will hold a Case Management Conference on Thursday, June 25, paving the way for the substantive arguments on July 1.

The other named respondents in the PPP’s application are Eslyn David, the Chief Elections Officer, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, GECOM and others.

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