Home News CCJ overturns Guyana’s Appeal Court decision
…in GGMC refusing to renew miner’s permits
By Shemuel Fanfair
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has effectively overturned the Guyana Court of Appeal’s decision which favoured the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) issuing a Cease Work Order (CWO) to miner Wayne Vieira in 2010 after refusing to renew his permits for gold mining in the Chinese Landing/Tassawini Village.
In a decision handed down on Thursday, the Caribbean Court instead upheld the High Court’s original ruling agreeing that the GGMC had no authority to issue a CWO directing Vieira to cease all work under his mining permits because he had no agreement with the Indigenous village.
This decision comes less than one week after the application was heard on December 1, 2017 by the CCJ Bench, which comprised its President, the Right Honourable Sir Dennis Byron, and the Honourable Justices Wit, Hayton, Rajnauth-Lee, and Barrow.
The Judges in making their determination noted that, allegedly unknown to the Commission, Vieira had made several attempts since 2009 to secure a new agreement with the Village Council, but his efforts proved futile. These wide-ranging efforts included engaging former Prime
Minister Samuel Hinds, who, according to the CCJ’s facts, was the Minister responsible for mines and minerals. Thursday’s ruling highlighted that the CWO was issued on November 26, 2010 under the Mining Regulations because of the absence of an agreement with the Village Council, as was required under the Amerindian Act.
“According to the CWO, the Mines Officer deemed the stoppage to be ‘absolutely necessary’ for the maintenance of the public peace or for the protection of the State’s, or private persons’, rights. Mr Vieira successfully challenged the decision to issue the CWO in the High Court before Justice Insanally, who determined that the order could only be issued in relation to breaches concerning the Mining Act and not the Amerindian law,” an excerpt from the ruling stated.
After Justice Insanally ruled in the matter, the GGMC then appealed to the Court of Appeal and won the case. Vieira, thereafter, challenged the Appeal Court’s decision at the CCJ.
Upon reviewing the Act, the CCJ noted that it has determined that “the Minister responsible for the Mining Act could not make regulations under that law with a view to aiding or enforcing the requirements of another law – the Amerindian Act”.
Based on this review, the CCJ duly determined that the Mines Officer was not authorised to issue the CWO under the Mining Regulations for a violation of the Amerindian Act. The CCJ restored Justice Insanally’s decision, noting that Vieira was awarded costs in all three courts.
According to court documents filed in 2013, Vieira noted that in June 1995, he purchased the tract of land described in the 4 Medium Scale Mining Permits (MSMP) at public auction held in Georgetown for the sum of US$100,000 paid in Guyana dollars. He claimed that on or around September 14, 2012, he “went to pay for the prescribed annual renewal for the three mining permits, but he was told by the cashier and other persons from the Land Management Department that they were instructed by the senior officers of the GGMC not to accept any payments from Wayne Vieira.”
Vieira, in his sworn affidavit, had further claimed that on October 29, 2012, he had attended a meeting with acting GGMC Commissioner Karen Livan, and GGMC’s legal adviser, Mrs Noble. He claimed that Livan, at the time, told him that she was “instructed by the Minister of Natural Resources, Mr Robert Persaud, not to accept any rentals from him and that the GGMC had appealed against the Order of Court and that nothing could be done until the matter was heard in court”. It was contended that other persons were mining in the area despite Vieira’s refusal. He was represented by Jamela A Ali and Sanjeev J Datadin while Nikhil Ramkarran represented the GGMC.