Please permit me to address briefly in your letter column two matters of public interest and touching on the administration of law in Guyana: the Deeds Registry and the Judicial Review Act, 2010.
On the Deeds Registry, it has been years since attorney-at-law and former Principal Officer, Deeds Registry Mr Leon O Rockliffe has been raising concerns about the state of the Deeds Registry, the statutory body that plays such an important role in protecting property rights in Guyana. His latest in SN on October 3, 2014 (‘Is the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority a victim of the privatization process?) is the most plaintive yet. On each occasion, he has been ignored by the Minister of Legal Affairs, the legal profession and the other affected parties.
Editor, it may be that the media does not fully appreciate the grave implications of the deficiencies which Mr Rockliffe has tried to bring to the attention of the public. If it was not very serious I doubt that Mr Rockliffe would have persisted as he has. This is not a matter to be left to the letter columns of the newspapers; it deserves a full-scale investigative piece for which your reporter should interview Mr Rockliffe, the current Registrar of Deeds, the Attorney General and the President of the Guyana Bar Association, among others.
Secondly the Judicial Review Act which was passed in the National Assembly four years ago. On that occasion then Attorney General Mr Charles Ramson blew his trumpet about what he “personally wrote into the law” and how the Act testifies “to a system of transparency and accountability in the country”; Ms Clarissa Riehl described it as a “watershed moment” in that the Act avoided the need for persons to apply for prerogative writs and simply required an application for judicial review; and Khemraj Ramjattan praised the legislation for bringing to the citizenry “more armouries” against improper administrative action.
Mr Ramson had a full year to make the Order bringing the Act into force while Mr Nandlall has had another three. Both failed to do so. Ms Riehl meant well but she must now be wondering what has happened to that moment and Mr Ramjattan should be wondering too about the failure of his legal colleagues to deliver even a water gun, let alone armouries.
What Mr Nandlall is effectively doing is frustrating the decision of the Parliament by his failure to bring the Act into operation. A delay of four years is clearly intolerable and falls down on Mr Ramson’s promise “to bring the judicial process into the 21st century.”