Yesterday, the Guyana Court of Appeal (CoA) dismissed Anil Nandlall’s appeal in the “case law reports” after finding that Acting Chief Justice Roxane George SC was justified in refusing to ” interfere with the decision of magistrate Fabayo Azore on November 23, 2018 to cancel a request for dismissal presented on his behalf.

The ruling paves the way for Nandlall’s trial to continue in the Magistrates Court, although it may be some time before he does, as Nandlall yesterday signaled his intention to appeal the decision before the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Nandlall was charged with his possession of $ 2 million in legal reports, and a trial in the district court ensued. After the state closed his case, Nandlall’s lawyers argued that there was no need to respond. However, the Azores magistrate, finding that a prima facie case had been established, rejected the claim and asked Nandlall to lead his defense.

Nandlall then sought judicial review of Magistrate Azore’s decision on the grounds that she had erred in finding a prima facie case, given that the charge against him, “Theft by a bailiff in violation of Section 165 of the Criminal Offenses Act, Chapter 8:01 “is allegedly not known to the laws of Guyana, and his decision to invite him to lead his defense in these circumstances thus violated his rights guaranteed by Articles 40, 144 (4) and 149 (d) of the Constitution of Guyana.

However, in rendering her decision, Judge George concluded that even if the court had jurisdiction to intervene at the dismissal stage of a summary trial, jurisdiction should only be exercised in “limited circumstances and extreme, ”which circumstances she said did not exist in Nandlall’s case.

Grounds for appeal

In the notice of appeal, counsel for Nandlall argued that the Chief Justice violated Nandlall’s right to be heard by determining the merits of the judicial review application on the basis of his affidavit instead. to give him the opportunity to be heard, by means of observations for example. In addition, it was argued that the Chief Justice could not legally have determined that the magistrate’s decision had been properly taken, as she had not benefited from the record of the proceedings in the district court.

The Chief Justice, however, had stated that in his affidavit Nandlall had not established what constitutional violation he was exposed to, and that it was not necessary for the minutes of the Magistrate’s Court to be produced before the High Court for this reason. .

The decision of the CoA

In delivering the CoA’s decision yesterday, Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards said the question in the trial court was whether the state had established a prima facie case. Continuing, she explained that judicial review is available in cases of illegality in the decision-making, while an appeal would examine whether, on the merits of the case, the decision is wrong or fair.

Under these circumstances, the Chancellor noted that the magistrate’s decision to quash the submission of any case to answer, and to call Nandlall’s attorney to conduct his defense was not illegal as it is permitted by law. to do so, and that’s part of the process to deal with.

Agreeing with the High Court on the limited scope of interfering with the trial of a district court at the stage of submitting no case to answer, the Chancellor noted that there is case law that highlights guard against interference by a superior court to stop the process of a tribunal at this point. The CoA also concluded that such interference is only justifiable in exceptional circumstances, circumstances which it claims did not arise in Nandlall’s case.

The Chancellor also said that although the Judicial Review Act states that judicial review should not be refused by a court when other remedies are available or have not been exhausted, a claimant cannot bring such ask when he wants. Requests must, she explained, comply with the rules governing this area of ​​law.

The chancellor also said the trial in the magistrate’s court should not have been interrupted by the application for judicial review, especially when the magistrate had not completed the trial. She also said it was premature for issues not fully decided by the district court to be considered by the High Court or for judicial review to be used to raise the learned magistrate’s decision.

Nandlall was represented by Douglas Mendes, SC, of ​​Trinidad and Tobago, while Solicitor General Nigel Hawke, of the Attorney General’s office, and Leslyn Noble, of the Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) represented Superintendent Trevor Reid, who is attached to SOCU. .