Last updated on Friday, 18 December 2020, 13:17 by Denis Chabrol
Newly minted Senior Counsel, Timothy Jonas recommends the establishment of a broad committee of legal experts to recommend to the President that Silk be granted, following a High Court ruling that identified the need for a transparent process.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall, during the case for the Executive’s role in the process, also promised that efforts would be made to ensure a more acceptable system was in place. However, shortly after giving Silk to himself, Mr Jonas and Ms Jamela Ali, he had no immediate suggestions.
Mr Jonas, for his part, recommended that a committee consisting of the Chancellor of the Judiciary, the Chief Justice, one Judge, three Senior Counsel and the Attorney General should decide who should be appointed as Senior Counsel. “Let them agree who to invite to bid and then, by a majority, in a secret meeting let them decide and let them make that proposal to the President,” he said.
The Attorney-in-Law continued to complain that the judges had previously been invited to submit names to the President but were ultimately rejected. In his case, Mr Jonas recalled telling President Ali that he would not have accepted the appointment unless the judges had agreed, a job he said was accepted and acted upon by the Guyanese leader. “You are judged by a jury of your peers by people who know what you know and are competent to assess you and we hope we have that going forward,” he said . For example, Mr Jonas stated that Attorney-General Nigel Hughes should be appointed as Senior Counsel.
Justice Naresh Harnanan, in delivering his ruling, said there was nothing unsafe about the President appointing Senior Counsel but pointed out the need for a transparent process. “The appointment method is a bit opaque. This may be appropriate for the perception that individuals, who do not deserve this highly regarded honor, can benefit from some sponsorship, ”he said. As such, the High Court suggested that the process for appointing Senior Counsel be amended. “There needs to be more transparency in the requirements criteria and the nomination and selection process that Counsel deserves to have the honor of taking Silk,” the judge added.
Senior Counsel Robin Stoby allegedly suggested a process in his arguments presented during the proceedings.
Alliance for Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, himself an experienced and long-standing lawyer, said the Chancellor, the Chief Justice and senior members of the judiciary were already recommending who should get silk. Mr Ramjattan acknowledged that the system is not perfect because the President could ultimately reject the recommendations but did not believe that the system should be changed. “To do another layer about who and who should bring it is just a mess, in my opinion, and we have to kind of live with this current system because you can have a President who doesn’t want to give somebody specific, ”said Mr Ramjattan.
He did not believe that another group of people involved in the process would prevent the President from exercising his own prerogative.
Mr Jonas, Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Attorney-General Jamela Ali were promoted to the position of Senior Counsel on Thursday, a position formerly known as Queen’s Counsel in pre-Republican Guyana.