GEORGETOWN – Two years after he was ordered to pay GUY$20 million (BDS$193 400) in a default judgment, Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo has lost his latest appeal to evade paying the award to former government minister Annette Ferguson, whom he had defamed in 2019.
The Court of Appeal has dismissed a notice for special leave filed by Jagdeo to challenge the Full Court’s decision, which upheld a High Court ruling that Ferguson be awarded a default judgment.
Further, the Court of Appeal has ordered that the matter be remitted to Justice Sandra Kurtzious to award damages for libel. A date is now to be fixed for the case to be called again before Justice Kurtzious.
Jagdeo, through a series of applications, sought to challenge Justice Kurtzious’ ruling in favour of Ferguson, who had filed the lawsuit against him and the Guyana Times newspaper, while he was opposition leader and she was a government minister.
Justice Kurtzious made the orders of judgment after it was found that Jagdeo failed to file a defence within the required time provided for under the civil procedure rules of the Supreme Court.
Jagdeo’s application to the Court of Appeal followed a decision by Chief Justice Roxane George and Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry who, in the Full Court, were unable to reach a unanimous decision on the case, resulting in the original judgment against Jagdeo being upheld.
Among other things, Jagdeo, through his attorney Devindra Kissoon, was seeking to appeal the court’s refusal to consider and grant an application to have the matter remitted to new judges in the Full Court.
He argued that Justices George and Sewnarine-Beharry erred in law by failing to issue directions, recall their divided judgment, and reassign the matter to a bench of the Full Court consisting of an odd number of judges, in light of the dissenting nature of the judgment which has resulted in an automatic reversion to Justice Kurtzious’ decision.
The lawsuit stemmed from statements Jagdeo made in the media in December 2019 about Ferguson’s acquisition of land and construction of her house.
Ferguson maintained the statements were slanderous, untrue and caused irreparable damage to her character and reputation.
The former minister said in court papers that the statements and publications suggested that she acquired unexplained wealth by dishonest means. Ferguson had called on Jagdeo and the Guyana Times to provide evidence to the court to support their claims. (CMC)