The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) hauled an absent Attorney General Anil Nandlall over the coals this morning over the premature release of the embargoed decision of the Court in the election petition case, several hours before the decision was scheduled to be handed down.
On the Facebook Page of the Attorney General on Tuesday, it was disclosed that the “CCJ upholds our submissions in Petition No.99: Court of Appeal decision reversed…the people won again.”
All of the Attorneys in the matter were provided with an advanced embargoed copy of the Court’s decision that they were asked not to share.
The move by the Attorney General’s team to publicize information from the ruling before this morning’s hearing is not sitting well with the Court.
After handing down their decision this morning, the CCJ judges rebuked the actions of the Attorney General.
Justice Jacob Wit said the draft judgement was dispatched to all lawyers in the case as was the norm, and was never meant to be made public ahead of the ruling in any way or fashion.
In registering the CCJ’s disappointment Justice Wit said “this is totally unacceptable…we don’t take this lightly at all”
He said going forward, the Court will have to determine how it treats with the release of draft judgements to parties involved in the various cases before the Court.
“It only goes to show how dangerous these things are. If we cannot have any trust in counsel or in the Attorney General Office, not even speaking about the Attorney General himself, but you have to organize your stuff in a way that this cannot happen. That must be absolutely clear,” Justice Wit said.
The Attorney General was not present during the hearing. However, the Solicitor General Nigel Hawke apologized to the Court, saying that it was a mistake by an Administrator of the Attorney General’s Facebook page and there was no attempt to bring the Court into disrepute.
“Your Honours, first we would like to place our sincere apology to the members of the Court and to our colleagues. But what transpired as I have instructed, and I should say that the honorable Attorney General was travelling on Government’s business to Barbados and, I am instructed that an unauthorized note, the judgement wasn’t published, unauthorized note was published on his facebook page,” the Solicitor General explained.
According to the Solicitor General, when the grave error was detected, the post was immediately removed.
Attorney Selwyn Pieters told the CCJ that the post made by the Attorney General’s page brought the Court into disrepute as he referenced to the comments that followed the post.
“Irrespective of whether it was the judgement itself, it was the content and the result of the judgment that was published,” Mr Pieters said.
He added that the premature release put the administration of justice into disrepute.
The Attorney said the comments did not put the CCJ in a positive light.
The Court has demanded a public apology from the Attorney General. The Solicitor General while apologising to the Court also provided an undertaking that a public apology will be made.
The Judges of the CCJ said they will discuss the unacceptable incident among themselves further.
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