Lowenfield terminates court action against his dismissal
Guyana’s embattled Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, through his Attorney Nigel Hughes, on Monday withdrew an Application he made in the High Court which challenged a motion before the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for his dismissal.
The matter was set for a ruling before Justice Jo Ann Barlow on Monday, but before the Judge could entertain any last minute oral presentations, Hughes informed the Court that his client wished to withdraw the application.
Lowenfield was seeking to stop his dismissal and had asked the Court for an Order which is akin to an injunction, to prevent government-nominated Election Commissioners Sase Gunraj and Bibi Shadick from participating in discussions on his dismissal.
With the motion upon which his application is premised now amended to allow for dismissal according to the terms of his contract of employment, rendering Lowenfield’s complains of a summary dismissal irrelevant, the decision was taken to withdraw.
Justice Barlow allowed for the case to be discontinued.
“This matter has come to an end… the directions the Court would have given to GECOM on July 29 are hereby discharged,” she said.
Attorney Kim Kyte Thomas, who represented GECOM, had argued that Lowenfield’s Application was premature and with the Motion amended, he no longer had a valid point to argue.
In an Affidavit of support, GECOM’s Chairman Justice (retired) Claudette Singh pointed out that Lowenfield’s contract of employment provides two bases for termination; first as noted in Clause nine, that his services may be terminated by way of three months’ notice in writing for any of the following reasons:
- If in the reasonable opinion of Guyana Elections Commission, the Chief Elections Officer/Commissioner of Registration is guilty of misconduct.
- If in the reasonable opinion of Guyana Elections Commission the Chief Elections Officer/Commissioner of Registration has failed to comply with the terms of this contract.
- Where in the reasonable opinion of Guyana Elections Commission the Chief Elections Officer/Commissioner of Registration is in breach of any clause or obligation in this contract.
The second basis pursuant to clause 10 is that the contract may be terminated without notice for gross misconduct, provided that, he must be given a written notice setting out clearly the reason for the termination of his contract and be given an opportunity to respond.
Justice Singh said the Commission instituted the second basis for termination, but later amended the Motion to include clause nine.
But Lowenfield, in the application, has asked for a declaration that he is entitled to the protection of the rules of natural justice and the right to a fair hearing and determination for the motion of his dismissal brought by Gunraj and seconded by Shadick.
“The fact that the Commission amended the Motion to include Clause 9, would have changed not only the circumstances, but would have also overtaken the basis of the Applicant’s application. That I contend that the Applicant has not suffered, neither will he suffer, any breach of natural justice or a fair hearing,” Justice Singh told the Court.
Attorney Kyte-Thomas had asked that the Court dismiss the Notice of Application filed herein and refuse the reliefs sought therein.
Last month, a motion to immediately dismiss the embattled Lowenfield, was moved by Gunraj, while Shadick, moved another motion to remove his Deputy, Roxanne Myers. The third motion was moved by Commissioner, Manoj Narayan, seeking the immediate dismissal of District #4 Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo.
The trio is accused of electoral fraud, committed last year during the March 2020 Regional and General Elections.