Nandlall Leading as SC
I salute the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, for his legal skills as demonstrated in the judicial matter of the political executive’s power to appoint ‘silk’ or Senior Counsel.
Nandlall, overruled his arguments in a precedent-setting judgment delivered by a High Court judge.
The country and the Diaspora welcome the court’s ruling that the President has the power to appoint silk as indeed all the heads of government in Guyana did back to dictator Forbes Burnham and all heads of government in the Caribbean Anglophone and the Commonwealth. It settles the issue of who has the power to donate silk.
Many lawyers in the Caribbean and the diaspora salute the AG on this judicial victory and after he appointed the annex, SC, to his long-deserved name, during his time as AG in during the Ramotar presidency.
I commend his contributions to jurisprudence. Hardly anyone has contributed more to the legal profession since 2012 than Nandlall. An injustice has been corrected with this SC recognition by President Irfaan Ali. I would also like to congratulate Mr Timothy Jonas and Ms Jamela Ayesha Ali, no relation to President Ali.
I have not had the privilege of interacting with the silk painters. Ms Ali had little media presence. Jonas and Nandlall demonstrated their legal brilliance and support for democratic principles during the five-month suffering by the APNU-led coalition to rig the election. And a year before, they also distinguished themselves in court challenging the validity of the Granger administration and appointments made in violation of the Constitution, challenges made all the way to the CCJ which ruled in favor of the challengers.
Jonas and Nandlall have been undefeated democracy fighters, as well as being excellent and respected members of the bar. They really stood out when democracy was violated. Everyone I spoke to said they deserved SC for their achievements and activism.
The AG masterfully argued why the President had the power to appoint silk. It clearly explains the power to appoint silk to the public and the legal profession. As he noted, it is a tradition that goes back to some 500 years of history when the monarchy, as head of government, assumed such power of appointment as was later invested in the political executive. When the Queen was head of state, the political executive made recommendations and QC was approved. With Guyana becoming a republic, Q has replaced QC. Such authority lies with the head of government throughout the Caribbean. The AG convinced the Judge with his powerful arguments that the power to donate silks was in the executive.
Ms Jamela Ali needs to be recognized for her honesty and respect for democratic principles. He refused the SC appointment under President Granger who was caretaker after December 21, 2018. A caretaker manager has no moral and Constitutional authority to donate silk. Out of principle and respect for the law, Ms. Ali her appointment.
President Ali is to be commended for being traditional in restoring the SC to Ms Ali. For her behavior alone, she is worthy of the appendix.
The President must also be commended for restoring his instruments of appointment from October 30 out of respect for the court’s interpretation of his power to make such appointments. Ali adjourned to the court, without acting arrogantly. He held his hand until the court ruled before issuing instruments of appointment. This is in stark contrast to his predecessor who was criticized for pursuing a collision course with the judicial arm of government. Democracy and rule of law were supreme under Irfaan Ali.
Many lawyers and academics felt that Granger contaminated the process when appointing silk; they criticized it for inserting sponsorship rather than merit in the process. His appointees caused great disquiet among the bar. Most were unknown.
Jonas had challenged the power of the President (Granger) to issue SC. Lawyers felt that Jonas should have challenged the selection process and that some of the appointees rather than the President were invested with such power. Many of those given silk under Granger did not distinguish themselves before the court.
One way to measure a lawyer’s contribution to jurisprudence is to examine how many cases that lawyer has appeared in leading law reports – the Commonwealth Law Report (54 countries) and the West India Law Report (15 countries).
Only substantive cases, setting precedent and lawyers make the creative arguments listed in these reports. I did some research between 2015 and now. Nandlall was the lead advocate at WILR. His name was reported 16 times instead of zero to Basil Williams. Several others who donated Granger silk also score zero in the law reports.
Next to Nandlall, Llewellyn John, a member of the bar since 1952, tied with Rajendra Poonai receiving the second highest number of 14 reports. Jonas, at the bar since 1996, has been named in eight reports by Ali, at the bar since 1989 in nine reports.
As of 2015, the reports show that Nandlall has been the youngest lawyer with the fewest years in practice, but the most skilled in reported cases among lawyers in Guyana, if not the Caribbean. This speaks volumes of his legal skills, putting him head and shoulders above even other lawyers who have longer years of experience.
Nandlall also made significant contributions in Parliament. He presided over several very important pieces of legislation, empowering rights and respect for the Constitution. In addition, as AG between 2012 and May 2015, he reviewed Guyana’s laws, completing the last set of published law reports. He also finished the law review begun by his predecessors, Doodnauth Singh and Charles Ramson – which came to be known as the Nandlall Laws Issue.
Awarding silk to the three is truly deserving, a recognition of achievement and knowledge of the law.
Vishnu Bisram Dr.