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Government receives bills for $$ in contracted legal services, AG says State matters were not vigourously pursued

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 13:22 by GxMedia

Attorney General Basil Williams.

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams believes that court matters that involved the State were not vigourously pursued under the former administration.

He related that many of the cases involving the State were contracted out to private firms and individuals rather than being done by those responsible for the task. Williams made his claim during his budget debate presentation Tuesday August 18, when he told the House that many matters are now surfacing, including the State receiving bills from persons and firms who received contracts to handle particular matters.

When Demerara Waves later interviewed Williams for further information on his presentation, he explained that major cases where the country stood to lose millions of dollars were not “vigourously” pursued or given the requisite attention.

He said “They (former government) did not defend cases that they were suppose to defend. They did not file appeals when they were  suppose to be filed on behalf of the State.”
He continued that, “These cases were not being tended to by the persons responsible to do so and they were not pursued vigourously. Plus alot (of these cases) were contracted out. In fact alot of the big decisions were contracted out to law firms and individuals.”

The AG said that while some cases were never appealed by the legal contractors, “we saw no defence, we saw no arguements. Im saying they could have been vigourously pursued to put the country on better legal ground with these matters.”

The Rudisa beverage company matter, like many others, ought to have been settled, “but they were being put off and interest kept developing on the sum when they realised they couldn’t win.” Government recently negotiated a settlement that has resulted in a reduction of the US$6 million plus interest that had been awarded to the Suriname-based Rudisa by the Caribbean Court of Justice.

In relation to the contracting of legal services Williams hinted to some degree of illegality but opted not to go deep without adequate information at his finger tips.
He confirmed however that legal services rendered by private individuals has left government footing bills costing millions of dollars.