Home News Order to appoint Board of DCRA made absolute
High Court challenge
The High Court on Wednesday upheld an Order Rule Nisi of Mandamus that was granted last month, compelling Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General Basil Williams to appoint the Governing Board of the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority (DCRA).
The Governing Board is non-functional, is not properly constituted, and has not held a meeting for over a year. The members of the Board, whose tenure has expired, have not been replaced by the minister in accordance with, and as mandated by, Section 6 of the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority Act.
Former Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, had moved to the High Court to compel his successor to appoint the board. When the matter was first heard on March 8, Justice Brassington Reynolds granted an Order Rule Nisi of Mandamus compelling the Minister of Legal Affairs to appoint the Governing Board of the DCRA, and to show cause why this Order Rule Nisi of Mandamus should not be made absolute.
At a subsequent hearing on April 5, detailed legal submissions were made by AG Williams and Nandlall before High Court Judge Justice Nareshwar Harnanan, before whom the matter had been placed. Justice Harnanan, on April 19, subsequently delivered an 18-page written ruling in which he overruled all the AG’s submissions and upheld Nandlall’s arguments, and thus made the Order Rule Nisi of Mandamus granted by Justice Reynolds absolute.
The Attorney General was further ordered to pay the applicant, Nandlall, $100,000 dollars as costs. With this ruling, the Legal Affairs Minister is now ordered to appoint the Governing Board to the DCRA.
Nandlall had outlined in his applications that the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority Act 2013, Act No 4 of 2013, establishes the Deeds and Commercial Registries as a corporate body created to establish and promote the efficient and orderly operation of the Deeds Registry and the Commercial Registry, to establish the conditions governing the employment of officers and employees of the Authority, to provide for funding of the operations of the Authority, and for connected matters.
Nandlall also explained that the Act establishes a Governing Board of the said Authority which shall have the function of ensuring the proper and efficient performance of the functions of the Authority.
The Governing Board shall consist of a Chairman appointed by the Minister; the Registrar of Deeds; the Registrar of the Commercial Registry; a nominee of the Finance Ministry; a nominee of the Housing and Water Ministry; a nominee of the Guyana Bar Association; a nominee of the Guyana Association of Legal Professionals; and a nominee of the Private Sector.
Nandlall argued that the tenure of the members of the Governing Board who were last appointed on or about June 2013, expired on or about June 2016, and they were never re-appointed by the Minister, in accordance with Section 6 of the said Act.
He argued that the aforesaid conduct constitutes multiple breaches of the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority Act 2013, Act No 4 of 2013, Acts and/or omissions to perform duties imposed by the said Act constitute an abuse of power, conflict with the policy of the Act, and constitute misfeasance in public office.
Nandlall said that, as a consequence, “there is inefficiency in the services rendered at the said Registries, which have an adverse impact on my practice and upon my ability to discharge my duties to my clients competently and diligently.”
He said the breaches to which he alluded constitute infractions of the law and amount to unlawful conduct by public officers, for which, “as an Attorney-at-Law, I feel compelled to seek rectification in the courts.”