(“Will we get an opportunity to see what the CCJ is about.”)
Contempt of court application filed against Guyana government
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) and subsidiary TCL Guyana Inc (TGI) on Tuesday filed an application in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) against the government of Guyana requesting the CCJ to hold Guyana in contempt of court for failing to implement the Common External Tariff (CET) on cement from non-CARICOM sources as ordered by the Court.
A CCJ ruling on August 20 last held that Guyana was in breach of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas after the country failed to apply the CET on cement imported from outside the region.
The same ruling ordered that Guyana reinstate the tariff on cement from non-CARICOM sources within 28 days of the ruling
The country’s attorney general, senior counsel Charles Ramson, said shortly after the ruling that Guyana will honor the obligation
“Guyana is prepared to obey the order of the court,” he said.
Ramson cited Article 15 of the Constitution which he says speaks to goals of economic development and includes various objectives; and specifically he noted that it points to state intervention to mitigate any deleterious effect of competition on individuals or groups of individuals. According to him, Article 16 supports what is set out in Articles 14 and 15.
“I helped draft the rules of court,” he said.
Ramson observed that the two Guyanese CCJ judges did not sit in the tariff hearing against Guyana, but he noted that two Trinidadian judges were on the panel “even though there was provision in the agreement establishing CCJ in Article 11 for a panel of three or even one to hear a case in its original jurisdiction”.
The AG stated that the one judge could have heard the case involving Guyana because the rules make the necessary provisions.
“… one judge could have sat, I assisted in drafting the rules and the agreement for establishment of that court, I was AG (prior to the resignation of Loudmouth Singh SC) at the time,” he stressed.
However, TCL said this was not honored, forcing the company to seek further redress from the courts.
The cement manufacturer in a release said that, while an application was subsequently made to CARICOM by the government of Guyana to waive the CET on cement, this request was turned down before the 28-day deadline stipulated by the CCJ.
“The time for compliance with the Order of the Court also expired on September 17, and Guyana has not taken any steps to act in accordance with the ruling of the CCJ,” the TCL release said .
In the application, TCL and TGI are requesting the CCJ to summons the Attorney General of Guyana, to give evidence and show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for failing to obey the order of the CCJ.
“TCL views this failure to abide by and implement the ruling of the CCJ as a flagrant departure from the rule of the law. It also negatively impacts upon the public’s confidence and respect for the Court,” the release said.
It concluded, “It is hoped that Guyana will remedy this state of affairs expeditiously and the CET on imported cement into that country be immediately re-established.”