Announcement of new Chancellor of Judiciary imminent, Bernard tipped

Stabroek News
April 30, 2001

President Bharrat Jagdeo is expected to announce the name of the new Chancellor of the Judiciary today and Chief Justice Desiree Bernard is widely tipped to be appointed.

It is also likely that he would also name her successor as Chief Justice but there seems to be no clear choice. However, Justices of Appeal Claudette Singh and Carl Singh are the names being widely mentioned as being in contention.

After their first meeting last week, President Bharrat Jagdeo and PNC REFORM leader, Desmond Hoyte SC, announced that they had agreed that the tenure of the present Chancellor Justice Cecil Kennard OR, which comes to an end today, would not be extended. Justice Kennard's tenure was extended to allow the administration elected after the March 19 elections to make the appointment and for it to be made on the basis of the consultative mechanism that would be provided for under the amendments to the constitution to be enacted.

At a press conference on Thursday at the Office of the President, President Jagdeo told reporters that he had not yet consulted formally with Hoyte. He said too that a candidate had not been identified but that he expected to have those consultations in time for an announcement to be made today.

Up to yesterday, Stabroek News confirmed that no contact had been made with Hoyte about such a consultation.

If appointed Chief Justice Bernard would be the first woman to head the judiciary since the post of Chancellor was created. Of the justices mentioned in connection with the post of Chief Justice, Justice Claudette Singh has over thirteen years experience on the High Court while Justice Carl Singh has around a decade of judicial experience if his tenure as a Land Court judge is taken into account.

Because the President has the right to appoint a Chief Justice after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, there is no certainty that seniority would be the major consideration. There is a precedent for not appointing the most senior judge.