In a judgment handed down by President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Adrian Saunders, the court has denied permission to hear an election petition appeal out of Dominica challenging the results of the 2019 general elections in the sister CARICOM territory.
It comes even as the CCJ is preparing to hear arguments on July 19 in an election petition appeal out of Guyana bearing stark similarities to the one presented by petitioners in Dominica.
The CCJ found that the appeal had no reasonable prospects of success because the trial judge’s judgment was interlocutory and not final and the Court of Appeal in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (Domica) was right to decline jurisdiction to hear an appeal against that judgment.
“In conclusion, these appeals have been dismissed on the basis of want of jurisdiction, because there was no final decision or order made by the judge,” the ruling noted.
It is the same situation with the election petition appeal that has found its way before the CCJ from Guyana.
The appeal from Guyana is challenging the country’s Court of Appeal’s decision to entertain an appeal regarding an already dismissed election petition.
The appellants – Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo and Attorney General Anil Nandlall – have argued that because petition 99 was dismissed by Guyana’s Chief Justice Roxane George on the grounds of late service, non-service or improper service, it cannot be appealed.
The political opposition in Guyana had appealed the High Court’s dismissal of the petition, claiming that the Chief Justice erred when she handed down the ruling on January 18, 2021.
But in the Domica ruling, the CCJ noted that even if the judge made errors, any such errors cannot convert what is clearly an interlocutory order into a final order.
“Interlocutory decisions are un-appealable,” the ruling noted.
It is the same grounds on which the attorney for Jagdeo and Nandlall has founded arguments in challenging the Court of Appeal’s decision to entertain an appeal on the dismissed petition.
The difference in the Dominica election petition appeal is that while Guyana’s Appeal Court had ruled by a majority to hear the appeal, the Court of Appeal in Dominica found that the High Court judge did not decide the petitions on their merits and that the decision was therefore not a final decision.
The Court of Appeal in Dominica accordingly declined jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
Nandlall had maintained that Guyana’s appeal before the CCJ was an ‘arguable’ case and ‘realistic prospect of success’ and this ruling is in agreement for the most part with his arguments.
The substantial appeal before Guyana’s Appeal Court was stayed pending a decision from the CCJ.
Guyana’s Appellate Court had ruled by a majority on December 21, 2021, that it has jurisdiction to entertain an appeal of the decision by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George to throw out elections petition 99 on the grounds of late service, non-service or improper service.
On December 21, 2021, Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justice Dawn Gregory ruled that the CoA had the jurisdiction, or power, to hear an appeal into petition 99.
However, Justice Rishi Persaud ruled not to allow the appeal. During his ruling, Justice Persaud said the Chief Justice did not hear the “question” or merits of the petition but rather dismissed it on the basis of late submission, there was nothing to appeal.
The appellants in the appeal to the CCJ contend that the majority erred in law and had no jurisdiction to hear and determine the appeal; neither from statute, the Constitution nor does it have an inherent jurisdiction.