High Court Judge prevents AG from representing newspaper

first_img$2B libel suit against Chronicle– Williams appeals rulingActing Chief Justice Roxane George, SC and High Court Judge Franklin Holder on Wednesday presided over Full Court proceedings involving an appeal from Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams who is challenging Justice Sandhill Kissoon’s decision that effectively blocked him from appearing for the Guyana Chronicle in a civil suit. The case stemmed from a $2 billion libel suit against the State-affiliated newspaper from Applicant Clifton Bacchus, the owner of Sleepin Hotel and aAttorney Anil Nandlallprospective investor in the casino business.He has sued the Chronicle for $1 billion in damages each for August 16 and August 17, 2017 articles which stated that he was under investigation by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) for money laundering.According to Bacchus’ lawyer, Anil Nandall, Justice Sandhill Kissoon on November 24, 2017 issued an order “threw the AG out of the case” after Williams had attempted to enter an appearance for the newspaper. In detailed submissions seen by this publication, Nandlall contended that the Guyana Chronicle is not a department or is part of Central Government and that entity’s owner Guyana National Newspapers Limited, is a limited liability company under the Companies Act.His submission observed that under the Companies Act, Chapter 89:01, “aAttorney General Basil Williamscompany enjoys the rights, powers and privileges of an individual. On this argument, Nandlall believes that Chronicle can be seen as “a private person in the eyes of the law”.“Thus, the First Named Appellant can sue and be sued in its own name. It is pellucid that the Appellants are private individuals as compared to the State and the Government. Even if it can be argued that the Government of Guyana may the sole or majority shareholder in the First Named Appellant, it is trite law that a company is separate and distinct from its shareholders,” a section of the court document pointed out.The attorney also referenced The State Liabilities and Proceedings Act, which provides for the role of the Attorney General in civil proceedings, highlightingSleep-In Owner Clifton BacchusSection 10 of the said Act which states that proceedings for the enforcement of claims by or against the State shall be brought by or against the Attorney General.“The AG only should appear for Government and Government agencies; under the Constitution, the AG is the advisor to Government; even with agencies that are statutory body Corporates, the AG would not appear because these are bodies Corporates that are run by a Board,” he further contended.After Nandlall’s objection to the AG appearing, Justice Sandhill Kissoon disallowed him from appearing for the newspaper which meant that the Chronicle had to enlist a new batch of lawyers. Guyana Times understands that Attorney Faye Barker is on that legal team.This newspaper was told that AG Williams’ appeal of the Justice Kissioon’s decision had brought on the Full Court proceedings which continue on April 19 at the Supreme Court.In August 2017, Bacchus denied that he had ever been approached by SOCU. He had even stated that the reports appearing in State media were “deliberately sensationalised” and also suggested that someone was carrying out a vendetta against him. He was adamant that the documents he submitted to the Gaming Authority established the source of his capital financing, claiming that his sources of finance included loans from local commercial banks and an overseas investor, which were secured by mortgages.In court documents of the original suit, the plaintiff had sought an injunction which to restrain the respondents, GNNL and the Editor of the Guyana Chronicle from publishing any additional statements that he or his business were involved or connected to money laundering or any like crime including drug trafficking.last_img