Chief Justice to rule on challenge over lawyer's authorisation
Stabroek News
September 20, 2001

Chief Justice Carl Singh has reserved his ruling on whether the election petition filed by a private citizen should be dismissed on the basis that one of the lawyers was reportedly not properly authorised to act on the petitioner's behalf.

This is the ground on which President Bharrat Jagdeo through his lawyers Senior Counsel, Bernard De Santos and others, is seeking to stop the election petition filed on behalf of Veronica Delph.

President Jagdeo, the third named respondent, in an affidavit in support of his application, swore that the petitioner in her affidavit in support of the petition had expressly authorized attorney-at-law Roysdale Forde to be her attorney in the matter. However, Shawn Allicock signed the Notice of Security for Costs, purportedly as attorney for the petitioner and this, the President said, rendered the proceedings null and void.

Delph's response was that she had authorized both Forde and Allicock to act on her behalf.

After listening to a lengthy address by attorney-at-law Sanjeev Datadin, who is appearing in association with De Santos who was not present on Tuesday, Justice Singh deferred his ruling. Forde was also given the opportunity to respond to the submissions made by Datadin.

Datadin submitted that the jurisdiction granted to the court by virtue of Chapter 1:04 of the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act was limited. He said that there was no common law right to challenge an election in the High Court and cited several cases, which he said were in support of this point.

According to the lawyer, any non-compliance with the law, however trivial, was sufficient to have the petition dismissed.

He said that the provision of the chapter must be strictly adhered to and this was not so in this matter as the authority authorising Allicock to act as one of the lawyers was not served on his client. At this point Justice Singh stopped the lawyer pointing out what he was submitting did not support his case. The judge questioned why De Santos had allowed one of his juniors to make submissions in such a serious case.

He told the lawyer that he was not attacking him in any way, but he strongly felt that De Santos should have been present in court.

The judge questioned how the failure to serve a document rendered it a nullity.

Forde, in response to some of Datadin's arguments, said that the lawyer failed to demonstrate to the court not only that there was a requirement to serve, but whether there was even a requirement to file the document.

The respondents in the petition are former chairman of the Elections Commission, Major General (Rtd) Joseph Singh; President Jagdeo for the PPP/C; Leader of the PNC/R Desmond Hoyte; Leader of Rise Organise and Rebuild (ROAR) Guyana, Ravi Dev; Leader of GAP/WPA, Paul Hardy; and the leader of The United Force (TUF), Manzoor Nadir.