-AG argues during court hearing
ATTORNEY-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., on Wednesday argued that the law prevents the High Court from granting interim injunctions against the implementation of government’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
The AG made this submission when the application filed by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) and their umbrella body, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), came up for hearing before Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln.
In the application, GPSU Vice-President Dawn Gardner, GTU General Secretary Coretta Mc Donald and General Secretary of the GTUC, Lincoln Lewis are claiming that former President, David Granger, exceeded his authority when he issued the first COVID-19 emergency measure in March 2020. They have therefore called for the measures to be quashed.
In the interim, they are asking the court to grant injunctions preventing the state from implementing the vaccination requirements and ordering the government to stand the cost for regular COVID-19 testing for all public servants.
However, the AG argued that the injunctions being sought in the application cannot be granted against the State.
To explain his position, he cited Section 16 (6) of the State Liability and Proceedings Act, which states “Where in any proceedings against the State any relief is sought as might in proceedings between citizens be granted by way of injunction or specific performance the court shall not grant an injunction or make an order for specific performance but may in lieu thereof make an order declaratory of the rights of the parties.”
He told the court that this position was interpreted by former Chief Justice Ian Chang in the case of the Guyana Softball Association versus the Attorney General in 2009.
“In this case, the court refused several injunctive remedies against the State on the grounds that such remedies are prohibited under Section 16 of the State Liability and Proceedings Act,” he argued.
Among other things, the AG said that according to Section 16 (8) of the said act “the court shall not in any civil proceedings grant any injunction or make any order against an officer of the State if the effect of granting the injunction or making the order would be to give any relief against the State which would not have been obtained in proceedings against the State.”
As it relates to the laws and facts of the case, Nandlall said that the court ought not to grant the interim declaration being sought by the applicants against the March 16, 2020, directions of the president’s implementation of the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.
In response, the judge reminded the AG that provision for the granting of injunctions is provided for in the Judicial Review Act which gives a statutory framework for the granting of interim injunctions.
The unions’ attorney Dane Elliott-Hamilton rejected the AG’s arguments and said that the court has the power to grant injunctions against the State.
Nandlall was given time to file written submissions with the court and the applicants’ attorney was given time to reply. The case was adjourned until September 17.