Statement by the Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC MP Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs

The Guyana Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL) responded to a Press Statement which I made commenting on the decision of a learned Magistrate recently rendered. The basis of my criticism is the learned Magistrate omitted to follow a decision of the Hon. Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George SC by which she is bound by the principle of State Decisis and the Doctrine of Precedent. This written ruling of the Hon. Chief Justice was submitted to the learned Magistrate and it contained a decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s apex court, on the very issue.

In short, the learned Magistrate chose to ignore the decisions of both the Hon. Chief Justice and the CCJ by which she is bound. It is this omission to which I pointed and described as an “elementary egregious error”. I resolutely maintain that I am entitled to express such a view and that the same falls within the
bounds of permissible criticism countenanced by law.

I observe that the GAWL Statement contains the adjectival labels of “disparaging remarks” and “attacks” to describe my comments. However, the Statement fails to identify the words or phrases of mine to which it refers. For the record, I did no such thing.

Lord Atkin, in the course of his judgment, in the case of Ambard v The Attorney General [1936] UKPC 16 posited thus:

“But whether the authority and position of an individual Judge or the due administration of justice is concerned, no wrong is committed by any member of the public who exercises the ordinary right of criticising in good faith in private or public the public act done in the seat of justice. The path of criticism
is a public way: the wrong headed are permitted to err therein: provided that members of the public abstain from imputing improper motives to those taking part in the administration of justice, and are genuinely exercising a right of criticism and not acting in malice or attempting to impair the administration of justice, they are immune. Justice is not a cloistered virtue: she must be allowed to suf er the scrutiny and respectful even though outspoken comments of ordinary men.”

Nearly a century later, this judicial pronouncement has lost neither its legal efficacy nor accuracy. It remains good law. I acted in good faith and not maliciously; did not attribute any improper motives; neither did I impair the administration of justice; and nothing contained in my statement can establish
any of the foregoing.

The GAWL Statement also insinuates that my Statement “may lower public confidence in Judicial Of icers and the Judiciary”. Paradoxically, these are the very sentiments which inspired my Statement and to which express reference was made therein.

I close by reminding of the legal guidance of Lord Denning in R v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [1968] 2 QB 150 “it is the right of every man in Parliament or out of it, in the Press or over the broadcast, to make fair comment even outspoken comment, on matters of public interest. Those who comment can deal faithfully with all that is done in a court of justice. They can say that we are mistaken and our decisions erroneous whether they are subject to appeal or not … we must rely on our
conduct itself to be its own vindication.”

I rest.