Former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall and his successor, Basil Williams clashed over victories in the legal arena.
Brushing aside heckling from the government about his alleged theft of law books, currently before the courts, Nandlall said Attorney General Williams not only lost numerous Court cases. Nandlall jabbed Williams, saying that his biggest loss was his failure to establish a law school in Guyana.
“Mr. Speaker is one thing to say that you lose law books, is another thing to say that you lose cases, is another thing to say that you lose the chairmanship of your party but when you lose a whole law school that is cause for concern. How do you lose a law school? I do not know, Mr. Speaker,” Nandlall said. He did not present a tally how many cases he won against Williams.
In turn, the Attorney General laid the blame for Guyana’s failure to have a law school so far at Nandlall’s feet. Williams accused Nandlall of writing the Chairman of the Caribbean Council for Legal Education, Reginald Armour blocking the setting up the Joseph Haynes Law School in Guyana.
“He wrote, he emailed the Chairman of the CLE to tell him don’t worry with this school. We didn’t get permission to support it. That is what he did and that is why he had to leave in disgrace,” Williams said of Nandlall who had left the National Assembly Chamber.
In reaction to the request by the Council of Legal Education for Guyana to fill a number of gaps in its application to set up the law school, the Attorney General again blamed the Council for shifting its position.
He said the absence of a Guyana Law school meant that Guyanese law degree graduates would continue to be subjected to the discriminatory quota of 25 students at a time when 250 graduate annually from Trinidad, and Jamaica. Williams suggested that Guyana would follow in the footsteps of The Bahamas. “They are reducing us to 25 students while they are churning out students there so I don’t know where they are going to come because, this here is the hub and if they are going to do that and feel we are going to employ all those lawyers they are churning out at the expense of the Guyanese lawyers, let’s see what’s going to happen. We are going to do like Bahamas,” he said. The Council of Legal Education operates the Eugene Dupuch Law School in The Bahamas.
In September, 2018 Armour had said Guyana had not presented a curriculum and quality assurance and that he feasibility study was in line with the provisions of the Treaty of the Council for Legal Education. The Attorney General has already said the Jamaican joint venture partners- University College of the Caribbean (UCC) and the Law College of the Americas (LCA)- have already responded to questions about the feasibility study. Guyana, he has said, plans to use the Hugh Wooding Law School’s curriculum.
The Attorney General sought to dispel Nandlall’s often repeated claims that the Williams had become famous for losing a number of civil and constitutional cases in the courts. He said for 2018, out of 277 cases, 118 were either dismissed or discontinued, 110 were won by the Attorney General’s Chambers with or without costs and 68 were lost. “So where is the losing Attorney General’s Chambers? Our winnings doubled what we lost,” he said.
Williams cited the Guyana Court of Appeal upholding the High Court’s decision that President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission. Another victory, Williams said, was the Caribbean Court of Appeal upholding a decision by Guyana’s High and Appeal Courts that the country’s constitution had been properly amended by parliament to provide for presidential term limits. He also referred to several cases that his Chambers won at the Caribbean Court of Justice and challenged Nandlall to show similar victories “under comparable tenure”. “What he did was leave with some enormous, heavy judgments,” remarked Williams.
In both cases, the Attorney General’s Chambers had hired Barbadian lawyers Ralph Thorne and Hal Gallop.
Reacting to several concerns raised by Nandlall, Williams said the Law Reform Commissioners have been already identified to be appointed by President David Granger and now there is need for additional funding.