… appointments reek of political biasness – Nandlall
President David Granger has announced the appointment of several judges and
lawyers as Senior Counsel (SC). This is the first time in some 20 years such appointments have been made.
The announcement was made in a statement issued by the Ministry of the Presidency on Saturday morning. According to the release, the appointments will be effective from January 1, 2017, and were made taking into account the exemplary experience, erudition, excellence and diligence in the practice of the
The newly appointed Senior Counsel are: Neil Aubrey Boston, a trial lawyer for over 34 years; Charles John Ethelwood Fung-A-Fat, a Parliamentary Counsel and Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel for over 33 years; and Justice Alison Roxane McLean George-Wiltshire, who was admitted to the bar in 1990 and served as a Senior State Counsel, Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Deputy Director of Public Prosecution and Director
of Public Prosecution.
Also named Senior Counsel was Clifton Mortimer Llewelyn John, who was admitted in 1952 first as a solicitor and then as a barrister; and Rafiq Turhan Khan, admitted to the Bar in November 1984, appointed for his service as an advocate, member and Co-Chairman of the Legal Practitioners Committee.
Additionally, Vidyanand Persaud, called to the Bar in London in July
1976 and admitted to the Bar in Guyana the same year, was appointed for his service as an arbitrator in disputes and in private practice for 40 years; and Rosalie Robertson, a Legal Advisor and Corporate Secretary for 33 years as well
as Registrar of Lands.
Justice Claudette Singh, called to the Bar in London in 1973 and admitted to the Bar in Guyana in 1976, was made SC for her service as the Deputy Solicitor General and as a Puisne Judge as well as a Justice of Appeal. She was also appointed for her leadership in spearheading the Modernisation of the Justice
Reform Project, and as the Guyana Police Force’s Legal Advisor.
The ninth person to be appointed Senior Counsel by President Granger is Attorney
General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, who has over 33 years of law practice in both criminal and civil law.
The last appointment of Senior Counsel were done in 1996. Back in May 2014, the Supreme Court of Guyana had
advertised for attorneys to take up the post of Senior Counsel. The notice invited attorneys who meet its criteria, which includes over 15 years of active practise at the Bar and are desirous of being elevated to the dignity of Senior Counsel, to make written applications.
However, no such appointments were made until President Granger’s announcement on Saturday.
Meanwhile, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has since expressed “shock” at
the sudden appointments of Senior Counsel by the President.
“These appointments were obviously done in a very opaque fashion. Some of the appointments reek of political bias and baseless favouritism. Persons deserving were spitefully and discriminatorily omitted,” he posited.
According to Nandlall, the fact that a sitting Judge was appointed runs contrary to every canon of practice and precedent which dictates that Senior Counsel must be practicing lawyers. He noted that it was for this reason that the Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago, Ivor Archie, was forced to relinquish his appointment as Senior Counsel because he was a Judge and not a practicing lawyer when he was appointed.
Likewise he added, the same obtained when Kamla Persaud-Bissessar was
appointed Senior Counsel while being Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
Moreover Nandlall outlined that one of the persons appointed has never done a case of substance at the Bar. He went on too to question the rationale behind the omission of certain individuals, which he said are glaring.
“On what basis was the current DPP, Shalimar Ali-Hack, omitted? As irregular as I
believe it is for a Judge to be appointed, on what basis was one Judge appointed and the other Judges not, especially the Chancellor and Chief Justice?” asked the former Legal Affairs Minister.
Furthermore Nandall enquired of the consultations done by the Coalition Government and/or President Granger in making the appointments, while adding that the slide into authoritarianism by this administration is moving faster than anticipated.