Nandlall awarded $10M by Judge in law books case against Basil Williams
High Court Judge, Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry has ordered former Attorney General (AG), Basil Williams, to pay the serving AG, Anil Nandlall the sum of $10M for damages caused by the accusations that he [Nandlall] stole Commonwealth Law Reports.
The judgement in the civil proceeding was handed down on Friday last.
In her written ruling, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry stated that it was clear that Williams intended to defame Nandlall by labelling him as a thief, stating that he was unfit to be part of the legal profession and a Member of Parliament and accusing him of stealing state property.
Among the evidence taken into consideration by the Judge included a series of articles published in the daily newspapers and video recordings broadcast in the press.
In assessing the damages, the Judge also took into consideration a number of factors. She noted in her ruling that the defamatory statements were bound to attack Nandlall’s reputation and professional standing and to cause “considerable” distress, anxiety and public humiliation.
The Judge also referenced Williams’ failure to apologise or publish an apology to Nandlall.
More so, prior to publishing the defamatory statements, Justice Sewnarine-Beharry noted that both Nandlall and former President Donald Romotar had issued public statements explaining Nandlall’s terms of employment, which automatically provided him with ownership of the law books.
In her ruling, the Judge ordered that an interest rate of six percent per annum from April 4, 2017 to June 29, 2023, and four percent per annum thereafter be applied until the costs is fully paid.
She also awarded Nandlall $1.6M in cost, to be paid by Williams no later than August 18, 2023.
The defamatory remarks were allegedly made by Williams in 2017 while he served as the Attorney General.
He accused Nandlall of fraudulently acquiring the Commonwealth Law Reports while he occupied the office under the PPP/C Government. Nandlall was subsequently charged with converting over $2M in the Commonwealth Law Reports to his own use and benefit.
However, in October 2020, the trial magistrate withdrew the larceny charge against Nandlall following the directions sent to her in a letter by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The charge was laid by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU)
Prior to this, Nandlall has repeatedly stated that while he was AG, the law books were purchased for him by the State with the approval of the then sitting President, Ramotar.