Response to Stabroek News Article dated 24th May, 2018 -“Bar Council raps Attorney General over comments on private lawyers.”

The Bar Association’s perpetual remit is to uphold the rule of Law in Guyana and must therefore be like Caesar’s wife-above suspicion.  It must not condone or appear to condone behaviour that injures the State or indeed the citizens of this country. There can be no difference between concealing law books and concealing files.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams S.C.

The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Basil Williams, SC, MP refutes the allegations that he attacked members of the Bar.  As Attorney General he is the Head of the Bar and has and will always hold the Bar and its members in the highest regard. However, as the Chief Government Legal Advisor he has a responsibility to the President, the Government and more importantly to the people of Guyana, to give the best legal representation possible. However, legal representation of the highest standard cannot be possible when cases, outsourced to private Attorneys by the former Attorney General of the last administration, are kept in the bosom of those Attorneys unknown to the new Attorney General.

The issue at hand is not the outsourcing of cases but the failure to inform the Attorney General’s Chambers in a timely manner of outsourced cases in the possession of Attorneys. The Attorney General’s Chambers under the last administration outsourced several cases to private Attorneys. Those Attorneys refused to hand over the cases and the Attorney General’s Chambers only became aware of those cases after judgment was passed in large amounts e.g. the Dipcon case (2016), where a $400 million judgment was made against the Government was only told to the Attorney General three months after judgment was passed.

Any prudent lawyer would, upon a change of Government, see it fit to communicate to the Attorney General’s Chambers if they are in possession of any Government matter outsourced to them by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall. It is simply a matter of honesty and courtesy, after all it should be up to the new Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs to determine if he wishes them to continue being Counsel on the matter.

More so, communication is important as the lack thereof has resulted in substantial loss of money to the Government and by extension the people of Guyana. The Attorney General’s Chambers cannot be prepared to defend cases on behalf of the Government if the Chambers is unaware of those cases.  That is asking the Chambers to achieve an ‘act of God’.

The fact that Attorneys choose to retain possession of matters even after the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs wrote letters and made a public announcement that they must relinquish those matters, demonstrates an intention to injure the State.  Letters were written after the Dipcon case to the following persons on 1st March 2016 requesting that if they were retained to represent the Attorney General in any matter to provide the Chambers with a list of matters and copies of the files-

  • Roysdale Forde
  • Ashton Chase, SC
  • Bernard De Santos, SC
  • Manoj Naryan
  • Neil Boston, SC
  • Ralph Ramkarran, SC
  • Robin Stoby, SC
  • Sase Gunraj
  • Nigel Hughes

To date only Mr. Ralph Ramkarran, SC, Mr. Nigel Hughes and Mr. Neil Boston, SC have responded to the letter and the urgent call by the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. None of the abovementioned lawyers responded that they had Toolsie Persaud Limited-v-AG, which the Court awarded a judgment of $1.7 billion dollars against the State.

Finally, any leader worth their salt would appreciate a smooth transition of office.  Upon leaving office as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Anil Nandlall should have informed his successor of the status of all matters in the Chambers and if any matters had been outsourced-who they were outsourced to. That would have been the right thing to do. That would have been the honourable thing to do.