Eslyn David, Joseph Harmon, Basil Williams to pay millions to Ali, Jagdeo
…as CCJ awards costs
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has awarded costs to President Dr Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, in the Ali v Eslyn David et al case, to be paid by David, former Attorney General Basil Williams and Joseph Harmon.
The award of costs was stated in an order on July 31, to be paid by coalition supporter Eslyn David, Williams and Harmon. In addition, costs for counsels can be taxed and otherwise acquired if they fail to pay up.
According to Attorney General Anil Nandlall, these costs can run up to several millions of dollars. Nandlall, who was on the legal team that represented President Irfaan Ali and Bharrat Jagdeo, said in a social media post that a bill of costs will have to be submitted to the court.
This will include legal fees, stationery, photocopying and preparation of written and oral submissions. To put it in perspective, he said the photocopying costs alone for one appeal could cost $500,000. As such, costs will likely amount to several millions of dollars, the cost of “frivolous, vexatious and abusive litigation.”
Meanwhile, prominent Caribbean lawyers like Trinidadian Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who led Ali and Jagdeo’s legal team, charge hundreds of United States Dollars (USD) an hour.
In an interview with this publication on Tuesday, Nandlall explained if the court-ordered costs are not paid then like any other order, it will have to be enforced by remedies that are available to enforce orders of the court
“It’s an order of the court. Like any other order, it will have to be enforced by the enforcement remedies that are available to enforce orders of court. They include filing of contempt of court proceedings. Contempt of court proceedings carry with it imprisonment if you are found guilty.”
“Secondly, you can levy on their properties and what they owe… that is, the court can sell their property. Thirdly, you can garnish money out of their bank account or anything that may be owed to them.”
According to Nandlall, the CCJ awarding costs against David and her collaborators is the natural conclusion of them filing court cases that were frivolous in nature. The AG pointed out that other courts had held the same view regarding the cases.
“Here, the costs would be punitive because the proceedings which were filed had no merit. All the courts said that. The High Court said it. The Court of Appeal said it,” Nandlall also explained to this publication.
Following the 33-day National Recount, it was demonstrated that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won the elections with 233,336 votes while the APNU/AFC coalition garnered 217,920. But just when Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh looked set to use the recount results to declare the elections, David moved to the Court of Appeal to prevent GECOM from doing its work.
Among the things Eslyn had sought was an order from the court restraining the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) from submitting a final report based on the recount. She had also sought an order to interpret Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution of Guyana and whether more votes meant more valid votes. In a 2-1 decision, Court of Appeal Judges Dawn Gregory and Brassington Reynolds ruled in David’s favour, while Judge Rishi Persaud ruled against.
After their ruling, the GECOM Chair wrote to her Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, on June 16, instructing him to prepare a final report based on the recount. But using the Court of Appeal ruling, Lowenfield submitted a report invalidating over 115,000 votes based on unsubstantiated allegations of dead and migrant voters, made by the APNU/AFC.
Lowenfield’s actions caused an immediate uproar and the varying sides found themselves in the CCJ for the Irfaan Ali et al v Eslyn David et al case. Among other decisions, the CCJ ruled in a unanimous decision that Lowenfield’s report, which arbitrarily disenfranchised voters, was invalid and that the concerns raised by the APNU/AFC coalition must be addressed in an elections petition.