CCJ awards costs, which could run into millions for Jagdeo, Ali in elections case
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has awarded costs to now President Dr Irfaan Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo following its judgment in the Eslyn David elections case.
In a written Order on July 31, the Court, which serves as Guyana apex court, issued a directive stating that: “Costs before the Caribbean Court of Justice are awarded to Messrs Ali and Jagdeo to be paid jointly and severally by the Attorney General, Ms David and Mr Harmon certified fit for two counsels to be taxed in default of agreement.”
Prior to the case being escalated to the CCJ, it was before the Court of Appeal, and costs incurred by Ali and Jagdeo at that court were also granted by the CCJ.
“Costs are awarded in the Court of Appeal to Messrs Ali and Jagdeo to be paid by Ms David certified fit for two counsel to be taxed in default of agreement,” the CCJ’s Order reads.
The Appeal Court had initially ordered in its June 22 ruling that each party was to bear its own costs. These require the costs to be paid unless there is an agreement between the parties not to do so.
But according to newly-appointed Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, an agreement is unlikely. Nandlall was one of the attorneys who represented Jagdeo and Ali in the case.
Nandlall explained that the costs for two counsel will require an elaborate Bill of Costs to be submitted to the Court, which would include all of the expenses associated with the two appeals.
The costs will cover things such as stationery, photocopies, filing fees, preparation of pleadings, preparation of written submissions, preparations for oral arguments, and appearances in the courts.
Nandlall revealed that the photocopying cost alone for one of the two appeals was approximately G$500,000.
“The charge out rate for one counsel approximates to several hundred US dollars per hour. In short, several millions of dollars will have to be paid in cost by those against whom Orders are directed,” he said, adding that this is the cost of frivolous, vexatious and abusive litigation.
The PPP had maintained during several legal battles during the prolonged electoral process that the APNU+AFC was abusing the courts by bringing cases which were frivolous in nature and had no chance of success.
David, an agent of the now-ousted APNU+AFC coalition, had approached the court seeking to have it block the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) from presenting his final elections report reflecting the certified votes from a national recount.
Those certified results showed that the PPP won the March 2 General and Regional Elections by a handsome margin of 15,000 votes.
David also sought an order restraining the CEO from complying with the directive of the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, although the law says that he is subject to the “direction and control” of the Commission.
However, the Appeal Court denied all of these reliefs sought by David, and attempted, what would later be described by the CCJ as an “unlawful,” to interpret “more votes are cast” to mean “more valid votes are cast.”
The matter was then appealed by Ali and Jagdeo to the CCJ, and the Court of Appeal’s decisions were overturned.