CCJ upholds High Court ruling against GGMC

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The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) today ruled that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) had no authority to issue a Cease Work Order (CWO) directing Mr Wayne Vieira to cease all work under his mining permits because he had no agreement with the Chinese Landing/Tassawini Village Council.

In a statement detailing the ruling, the CCJ noted that the High Court decision was restored and Mr Vieira was awarded costs in all three courts.

The Caribbean court outlined that the CWO was issued on November 26, 2010, under the Mining Regulations because of the absence of an agreement with the Village Council, as was required under the Amerindian law. However, it was noted that Mr Vieira had made several attempts to secure a new agreement with the Village Council unknowingly to the Commission and even engaged the Prime Minister, who was the Minister responsible for mines and minerals but proved futile.

According to the CWO, the Mines Officer deemed the stoppage to be ‘absolutely necessary’ for the maintenance of the public peace or for the protection of the State’s, or private persons, rights.

Vieira successfully challenged the decision to issue the CWO in the High Court before Justice Insanally, who determined that the order could only be issued in relation to breaches concerning the Mining Act and not the Amerindian law.

The Commission then appealed to the Court of Appeal and won, following which the miner appealed to the CCJ.

The CCJ decided that the law required the issuance of the CWO to be ‘absolutely necessary’, which had not been established or even contemplated by the Mines Officer or Commission. It was also concluded that Mr. Vieira was entitled to an opportunity to oppose the order and to challenge whether it was absolutely necessary.

Upon review of the Act, the CCJ determined that the Minister responsible for the Mining Act could not make regulations under that law with a view to aiding or enforcing the requirements of another law – the Amerindian Act. As such, the Mines Officer was not authorized to issue the CWO under the Mining Regulations for a violation of the Amerindian Act.

The Caribbean Court said, however, that this “does not prevent the Commission from dealing with disputes arising under the Amerindian law if the dispute could be regarded in an appropriate case as also being a dispute under the Mining Regulations”.

However, the Court determined that this would not apply in this instance.

The application to the CCJ was heard on December 1, 2017, and judgment issued on Thursday, December 7, 2017, by the Bench of the CCJ comprising the Sir Dennis Byron, President of the CCJ, and Justices Wit, Hayton, Rajnauth-Lee, and Barrow. Mr Vieira was represented by Ms Jamela A. Ali and Mr Sanjeev J. Datadin, Attorneys-at-Law, and the Commission’s Attorney-at-Law was Mr Nikhil Ramkarran, the Court said.

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