Full Court sets aside default libel judgement against Leslie Ramsammy

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Head of the Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr Leslie Ramsammy

The Demerara Full Court has unanimously ruled to set aside a default libel judgement that was granted against Advisor to the Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy.

In February of last year, journalist Enrico Woolford, who previously served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Communications Network (NCN), sued Ramsammy for making defamatory statements about him. On August 25, 2021, High Court Judge Fidela Corbin-Lincoln handed down a default judgement in favour of Woolford, owing to Ramsammy’s failure to file a defence within the time prescribed by the Civil Procedure Rules of 2016.

Ramsammy, through his lawyer Nirvan Singh, had asked Justice Corbin-Lincoln to set aside her own judgement but his application was refused after the trial Judge, among other things, found that he did not provide a reasonable explanation for his failure to file a defence and that his defence had “no real prospect of succeeding”.

Justice Corbin-Lincoln had thereafter adjourned the case to assess damages. No award for damages was made by Justice Corbin. Ramsammy moved to the Full Court.

Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry and Justice Gino Persaud—comprising the Full Court—among other things, said that while they agreed that Ramsammy did not provide a reasonable explanation for his failure to file a defence, it would be in the interest of justice to allow him to file a defence and defend the claim for defamation. In so doing, they held that civil procedure is a “handmaiden” of justice and not its “master”.

Ramsammy’s appeal was therefore allowed, he was granted until December 9 to file his defence and the matter was remitted to Justice Corbin-Lincoln for case management. The Full Court’s judgement ruling was done last Thursday.

In his lawsuit lodged at the Demerara High Court, Woolford has claimed for damages against Guyana Times and Times Media Group, jointly and severally, and one of the newspaper’s columnists, Ramsammy, over an article published in the daily, which inter alia, alleged that he colluded with the APNU/AFC to rig the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections.

Woolford, through his lawyer, Eusi Anderson, submitted that he was defamed on March 18, 2020, in a column titled: “Ramsammy’s Ruminations”, authored by Ramasamy and published in Guyana Times’ print and online edition. He is seeking more than $185 million in damages.