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Guyana Court of Appeal sends APNU+AFC election petition matter to Caribbean Court of Justice

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2022, 10:33 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Court of Appeal on Tuesday granted leave to the government and the People’s Progressive Party to appeal a decision to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings made her decision in keeping with the CCJ Act and she also ordered that the applicants/intended appellants lodge GY$750,000 with the Supreme Court as security for costs within 90 days from Tuesday. They also have to provide within 90 days a list of the documents to be provided in the appeal.

The Guyana Court of Appeal also ordered that its decision on December 21 be stayed until the CCJ hears and determines the matter.

“Albeit it is desirable that appeals be heard and that interlocutory decisions await the results of the substantive matter, this is a matter of great public importance and given the nature of the application and the fact that the application is brought under the respective sections of the Caribbean Court of Justice Act, this court sees no reason to deny the applicants leave to appeal,” the Chancellor of the Judiciary said.

That decision had been that the Court of Appeal could hear an appeal on why the High Court dismissed an opposition APNU+AFC election petition and refused to hear it on a technicality because the representative of the list of candidates, David Granger had not signed certain documents within the legally mandated period. 

The Guyana  Court of Appeal had ruled on December 21, 2021 that it had jurisdiction to hear an appeal of the High Court’s decision.  Attorney-at-Law, Roysdale Forde, before Tuesday’s decision, failed to convince the court that the substantive appeal should have been first heard by the Guyana Court of Appeal before moving to the CCJ. “I kniw of no case that had been brought to the CCJ in similar circumstances where a substantive appeal is pending before the Court of Appeal in any one of the signatory countries. The CCJ seemed to have indicated that these matters should be first heard, determined and completed in the respective Court of Appeal jurisdiction before they are brought to the CCJ,” he said. He admitted that he was unaware of any resolution in such circumstances in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

Attorney-at-Law Douglas Mendes, for the PPP’s Representative of the List of Candidates Bharrat Jagdeo, told the Chancellor and other Justices of Appeal that his client has a right to a CCJ appeal because the matter touches on a constitutional matter and “this court ought to find that this is a matter of great and general public importance. “It has not been determined in any other jurisdiction and is being determined for the first time,” Mr. Mendes added.

Guyana’s Solicitor General, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hawke also argued that the case should be sent to the CCJ.

Attorney General Nandlall had maintained throughout that the dismissal of an election petition could not be appealed.

If the petition is ultimately heard, it could see a detailed examination of evidence related to allegations by both APNU+AFC and the PPP of fraud that could have changed the outcome of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.