Default judgement against Dr. Ramsammy set aside in Woolford libel case


The Full Court has agreed to set aside the default judgement granted against Dr. Leslie Ramsammy in the libel suit brought against him and the Guyana Times newspaper by former General Manager of the National Communications Network (NCN) Enrico Woolford.

The Full Court, comprising Justice Gino Persaud and Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, ruled in Dr Ramsammy’s favour in a judgement delivered on Thursday.

Dr. Ramsammy, who currently serves as the Advisor to the Minister of Health, appealed the ruling of High Court Judge Fidela Corbin-Lincoln, who refused his application to set aside the default judgement that was granted against him in the libel suit. The Full Court agreed to this appeal but ordered that he now file his defence in the substantive case for it to be adjudicated.

Nirvan Singh, Attorney-at-Law

The libel suit was brought against Dr. Ramsammy, the Guyana Times newspaper and the Times Media Group over alleged libellous statements published in a column penned by Dr. Ramsammy. Woolford seeks some $185 million in damages.

See below details from Ramsammy’s attorneys:

Advisor to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy represented by Mr. Nirvan Singh, Attorney-at-Law, successfully appealed to the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature against a decision refusing to set aside a default Judgment entered against him in a Statement of Claim commenced by Enrico Woolford in 2021 for libel allegedly arising from publications by Dr. Ramsammy in a news article on the 18th March, 2020. The said Order refusing to set aside the said default judgment was made in Defamation proceedings commenced in the High Court by the Respondent Enrico Woolford. On the 25th August, 2021, Default Judgment was granted in the High Court against Dr. Leslie Ramsammy in the said Defamation Claim seeking inter alia damages for libel in excess of $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars). The said Judgment was entered against Dr. Leslie Ramsammy after a publication of the Claim in the newspapers following an Order of Court for substituted service of the High Court proceedings.

On the 13th October, 2021, an Application was filed behalf of Dr. Ramsammy, seeking to set aside the said Default Judgment, which was refused by the Learned Trial Judge during the High Court proceedings on the 11th March, 2022. The Appellant subsequently appealed against that decision by filing a Notice of Appeal to the Full Court on the 30th March, 2022, for the default judgment to be said aside. On the 14th July, 2022, on an Application by Mr. Nirvan Singh, the Full Court comprised of the Honourable Mr. Justice Gino P. Persaud and Madame Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry ordered that the High Court proceedings be stayed pending the determination of the Appeal.

On the 24th November, 2022, upon consideration of the submissions presented by Mr. Nirvan Singh and Attorney-at-Law for the Respondent, the Full Court allowed Dr. Ramsammy’s Appeal and ordered that the Appellant file his Defence in the High Court proceedings within a stipulated time as well as for the matter to be re-mitted to the Learned Trial Judge for Case Management. The Full Court held in its Judgment that there was a matter of public interest being the National 2020 elections in Guyana, which was raised in the Appellant’s draft defence to the defamation claim and that such matters ought to be ventilated at trial. The Full Court was of the considered view that an important object if not a crucial factor for consideration in defamation matters is damage to reputation and vindication of reputation. This can be easily undermined if a default judgment in a defamation claim is allowed to stand. The Judges of the Full Court noted that Dr. Ramsammy had pleaded in his draft defence presented in the High Court proceedings that his statements were inter alia true and based on fair comment. It was accordingly held that it is in the interests of both sides that the defences pleaded should be properly addressed.






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