To ensure that proper legal services are provided to the Government; to provide statutory services to the public relating to the public trust and bankruptcy matters; and to register titles, mortgages, companies, societies and other bodies as well as other documents, as required by the law.
Opening Ceremony of the Hague Convention Conference
“International Family Law, Legal Co-operation and Commerce: Promoting Human Rights and Cross-Border Trade in the Caribbean through the Hague Conference Conventions ” – July 13, 2016, held at Savannah Suite, Pegasus Hotel Kingston, Georgetown, Guyana
Opening Remarks by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs – Hague Convention Conference on Private International Law
July 13, 2016
International Family Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce: Promoting Human Rights and Cross Border Trade in Guyana through the Hague Conventions
His Excellency Brigadier David Granger – President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Mrs Sandra Granger – First Lady of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Honourable Moses Nagamootoo – Prime Minister of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Honourable Justice Carl Singh – Chancellor of the Judiciary, Dr. Barton Scotland, CCH- Speaker of the National Assembly, Ministers of the Government, Leader of the Opposition and Former President Bharrat Jagdeo, Members of the Diplomatic Corp, The Right Honourable Sir Dennis Byron-President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Ministers of Legal Affairs and Attorney Generals from the region, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi- Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, Maria Cristina Perceval – UNICEF Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Honourable Madam Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards – Chief Justice, Members of the Judiciary, Honourable Judges from the region, Sir Matthew Thorpe – Lord Justice of Appeal, Court of Appeal of England and Wales (Rtd), Members of Parliament, Mrs. Patricia Chase-Green-Her Worship the Mayor of Georgetown, colleagues at the bar, special invitees, participants, ladies and gentlemen.
Tonight it is my distinct honour and pleasure to welcome you firstly to Guyana and secondly to the Hague Convention Conference on “International Family Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce: Promoting Human Rights and Cross Border Trade in Guyana through the Hague Conventions”. I am delighted that Guyana is the host for what is no doubt a prestigious gathering of legal minds coming together to have meaningful discourse on the challenges that confront our nations and how the Conventions birthed from the Hague Conference on Private International Law may offer a solution.
The first Conference I attended as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs was a Hague Conference on International Law (held in Trinidad and Tobago) in June 2015. The hosting of this Conference is in direct response to an appeal by Sir Matthew Thorpe at that Conference for Caribbean countries to embrace the ideals of the HCCH and sign on to its Conventions. Sir Thorpe emailed me on 23rd August, 2015 enquiring whether there was any hope of Guyana appointing a judge to the International Hague Network of Judges; pointing out that this may aid our country towards Convention accessions. I responded on the 7th September, 2015, indicating that I am interested in hosting a Hague Conference and would be grateful for his assistance.
He immediately responded and gave a thorough breakdown of what was needed to host a successful conference. He advised that I involve Mr. Ignacio Goicoechea-the Latin America Representative of the HCCH and I heeded his advice. Mr. Ignacio Goicoechea expressed the same enthusiasm as Sir Thorpe and immediately endorsed my proposal. After receiving their support I went to President Granger with the concept note and the President without hesitation embraced it. This paved the way for UNICEF to partner with us and graciously fund part of the Conference. The HCCH also provided support in the area of programming and coordinating the presenters for the various Conventions.
Benefits of Hague Conference on Private International Law for Guyana and the Region
The content and quality of the various HCCH Conventions are worthy of embracing. They primarily seek to improve the everyday lives of individuals, families and businesses by providing the legal framework that directly responds to challenges inherent in our interconnected world. It is therefore necessary to sensitise the legal community in Guyana and extend it towards the region so that we may all embrace the spirit of cooperation that underpins the HCCH Conventions. We must be cognizant that we are living in the age of globalisation where the solutions that confront us can only be solved when we work together to resolve them. The Conventions of the HCCH are useful to bridge the gaps created by our differences by encouraging judicial and administrative co-operation between States in an effort to effectively settle international disputes.
For those of us not a member of the HCCH or signatory to the Conventions, the time to do so is now. Partnering with the HCCH allows us to become proactively involved in the welfare of our citizens (especially those most vulnerable) as well as contribute to the development of our economy. Embracing and aligning ourselves with the mission of the HCCH by becoming a Contracting State will result in having a legislative framework reflective of international standards to resolve disputes. For example in the area of International Family Law where family disputes and dissolutions span continents the Conventions offer tremendous benefit to ensure the human rights of children are protected. The Abduction Convention, Adoption Convention, the Child Maintenance Convention and Child Protection Convention will pave the way to secure the best interest of children and preserving the most important institution in society, the family. They will provide a legal mechanism for us in the region to collectively ensure that the human rights of children are preserved.
Another example is in the area of Legal Co-operation and Commerce which is an important area for our region as we forge ahead in our mission to greater regional integration and cooperation. International trade disputes that confront us can be settled through the solutions offered by the HCCH Conventions which have as their underlying principle co-operation among states to resolve disputes. The Conventions contribute to the ease of doing international business by removing the legal obstacles that can hinder any thriving economy. For instance, they simplify and expedite judicial proceeding, ensure reciprocity as it relates to the enforcement of judgments in foreign jurisdictions. Additionally, they promote legal certainty by allowing contracting parties to choose both the choice of court to hear the dispute and the law which will govern the proceedings. This creates an atmosphere of cooperation and encourages investment and trade.
Some of these Conventions include – the Service Convention , the Evidence Convention, the Apostille Convention, the Choice of Courts Convention and the Hague Principles on Choice of Law in International Commercial Contracts.
As Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs it is my hope that Guyana becomes a member of the HCCH and that we can continue the work already started through the hosting of this Conference.
As a testament to Guyana’s commitment to partnering with the HCCH it gives me great pleasure to nominate our Honourable Chief Justice- Madam Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards and Madam Justice Roxanne George to be Guyana’s representatives on the International Hague Network of Judges. I have no doubt that they will bring to this prestigious network a wealth of knowledge that will contribute positively to the operating and functioning of the Hague Conventions.
Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to all of you for supporting this Conference by your presence and I wish you a very productive and successful meeting.
International Hague network of judges crucial to effective practical communication- participants hear
Jul 14, 2016 Government, Ministry of Legal Affairs, News
Georgetown, GINA, July 14, 2016
The International Hague Network of Judges is crucial to effective practical communications as it allows it members to have direct communication with their counterpart the world over.
This was told to legal practitioners from the region who are gathered for the Hague Convention Conference on International Family Law, Legal Co-operation and Commerce at the Pegasus hotel, Georgetown.
The Right Honourable Sir Matthew Thorpe, former Lord Justice of Appeal and Head of International Family Justice 2005-2013 said that the Convention that speaks to the Network of Judges includes commonly accepted safeguards, and details guidance needed by each Network Judge for them to be effective in their roles.
The Right Honourable Sir Mathew Thorpe, Former Lord Justice of Appeal and Head of International Family Justice 2005-2013
“Any judge of the network has at least a clear guide as to what is good practice in the field of judicial communication,” Sir Thorpe explained.
He asserted that nominated judges to the network have an important responsibility, not to remain within their own domains, but rather they must meet to exchange ideas and get to know each other as colleagues.
“To that end, we have had a residential conference for the network judges in UK in 2013 and last year in Hong Kong… these are hugely valuable opportunities for judges to get together and exchange their experiences,” Sir Thorpe explained.
The wisdom behind having a network of judges is to foster practical communication between and amongst them. Therefore, when one judge is seized of a matter in their jurisdiction involving a cross-border issue, they can contact their counterpart in the other jurisdiction. This level of practical communications, Sir Thorpe touts, saves time, money, and removes the barriers to justice being served and results in the ordinary citizen getting justice.
Some of the participants gathered for the Hague Convention Conference on International Family Law, Legal Co-operation and Commerce.
“The most important aspect is the external communication so that the network judge has to be ready to receive requests for information and assistance from their counterparts anywhere in the world and provide wholehearted response- irrespective of a time or language problem,” Sir Thorpe said.
Sir Thorpe further added that the other important responsibility of network judges is to communicate with their colleagues within their respective jurisdictions, keeping them informed of the developments of case law and the developments of issues.
“You need to report, make newsletter available to specialists judges in the region … you have to make effort to attend conferences which are specialist and specifically designed to draw in the expertise and experience you are accumulating,” Sir Thorpe said.
Madame Justice Allyson Ramkerrysingh, Family Court of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain and Hague Network Judge, recounting her experience utilising the network, said that is the kind of communication the network seeks to have.
The Honourable Madam Justice Allyson Ramkerrysingh, Family Court of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain, Hague Network Judge
Madame Justice Ramkerrysingh also pointed out that based on Trinidad and Tobago’s experience; a number of initiatives will soon be put in place to give the Central Authority more scope to fully implement the Conventions that were assented to.
Some of the measures include a directory of legal practitioners who can assist both foreign and local left behind parent in initiating proceedings; a comprehensive list of probation officers, welfare officers and social service providers who can facilitate expeditious reports to courts, both locally and in other contracting territories; a list of dependable safe houses and residents that offer shelter and protection in cases of emergency to both foreign and local interested parties, and a list of ready information for police and other relevant law enforcement agencies who can provide swift assistance in troublesome matters.
Guyana nominates two judges for Hague Network of Judges-as inaugural Regional Hague Conference opens
Georgetown, GINA, July 13, 2016
Guyana’s Chief Justice (ag) and another senior judge were nominated by Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Basil Williams this evening to become Guyana’s representatives on the International Network of Hague Judges.
At the opening ceremony of the Hague Convention Conference at the Pegasus Hotel this evening, Minister Williams nominated Chief Justice (ag), Madame Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Madame Justice, Roxanne George as Hague Network Judges as part of Guyana’s commitment to joining the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).
Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards (right) and Madam Justice Roxanne Bernard (left) at the opening ceremony of Hague Convention Centre.
Williams said he has no doubt that the judges will bring a wealth of knowledge which will contribute positively to the operating and functioning of the Hague Conventions. Guyana is hosting the third regional conference until July 15.
“My hope is that Guyana becomes a member of HCCH and continue the work already started through the hosting of this conference,” Williams said in his opening remarks.
Once the nomination is accepted, Guyana will be the second country in the Caribbean region to be a part of the network. Trinidad and Tobago is the first Caribbean country to sign on to it.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of the HCCH, Christophe Bernasconi welcomed the two judges on their appointment and expressed the hope that other Caribbean countries will sign onto the Hague Network of Judges.
“I hope that this event will ignite in all delegates here present a strong interest and enthusiasm for the Hague conference and its conventions. I also hope that this enthusiasm will be carried back to the capital, and as a result, many Caribbean states will sign up to Hague conventions and actively consider Hague Conference membership. I sincerely hope that we can encourage those states…to designate one or two Hague Network Judges,” Bernasconi said.
Bernasconi also commended Minister Williams for the effort that Guyana and other sponsors have put in to make the conference possible. “You immediately understood the great potential our instruments can have for Guyana and the region more broadly,” Bernasconi said in praise.
Williams also came in for praise from Sir Matthew Thorpe, retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Court of Appeal of England and Wales. “Here we have the jurisdiction and that gives us the potential to achieve the breakthrough in the volume of the support for the Hague family conventions in this region,” Thorpe said.
The conference is the third and largest regional conference. There are approximately 22 delegates from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the wider Caribbean region attending. Those delegates are Ministers of Legal Affairs, Attorney Generals, Judges and other legal experts.
Attorney General Williams said that the content and quality of the various HCCH conventions are worthy of embracing. “The conventions simplify and expedite judicial proceedings to ensure reciprocity as it relates to the enforcement of judgement in foreign jurisdictions and promote legal certainty,” Williams said.
Government committed to providing caring, enabling environment for nation’s children -President Granger at opening of Hague Convention Conference
July 13, 2016
Georgetown, Guyana – (July 13, 2016) President David Granger, this evening, reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to the protection and provision of a good life for all Guyanese, especially for children, as he noted that this vulnerable group must be guarded, nurtured and taken care of so that they can enjoy successful lives.
The President was at the time speaking at the opening of the Hague Convention Conference on International Family Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce, Promoting Human Rights and Cross Border trade in the Caribbean at the Pegasus Hotel, which is being hosted in Guyana through the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). President Granger said that Guyana’s hosting of the conference is a show of the commitment from the part of the Government to rectify those issues, which affect Guyanese; particularly it’s children, since the Conference is focused significantly on family law and human rights.
From left: Ms. Maria Cristina Perceval, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams, Mrs. Williams, President David Granger, First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, Secretary-General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi, Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo and Prime Minister, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo.
“A ‘good life’ means more than economic growth. It is about the creation of a caring and protective society, especially for its most vulnerable members; its children. It’s about a quality of life, it’s about the creation of a caring and protective society, especially for it’s more vulnerable members; its children. A ‘good life’ is about the protection respecting the rights of children, protecting them from abuse and providing greater opportunities for them to have successful lives. A ‘good life’ can be guaranteed at four levels: at the family level, which has the primary duty to protect its children, the community level, which has a duty to cooperate for the protection of children [and] at the state level, which has a duty to provide legal protection and support for their citizens everywhere,” President David Granger said.
The President noted that the Declaration of Geneva of 1924, a landmark in international law, recognised that mankind owed to the child the best that it had to give. He said that it urged the men and women of all nations to accept that “beyond and above all considerations of race, nationality and creed”, the child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually. Therefore, he noted, the Conference must focus on the best outcomes, which can ensure that this vulnerable group, receives the best framework for their care, protection and growth.
“The child that is hungry must be fed. The child that is sick must be nursed. The child that is ‘backward’ must be helped. The delinquent child must be reclaimed and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored. The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress. The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation. The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of fellow men,” the Head of State quoted from the Declaration of Geneva of 1924.
President Granger said that while Guyana has been laying the foundation of the legal architecture for comprehensive child protection and family law with the passage of the Status of Children Act, the Child Protection Act, the Adoption of Children Act, the Sexual Offences Act and the Custody, Contact, Guardianship and Maintenance Act, there is still work to be done. He added that the deliberations at the Conference will assist in the improvement of local systems.
His Excellency, President David Granger, delivers the feature address at the Opening ceremony of the Hague Convention Conference on "International Family Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce: Promoting Human Rights and Cross Border Trade in the Caribbean through the Hague Conference Conventions", which was held earlier this evening at the Pegasus Hotel.
His Excellency, President David Granger, delivers the feature address at the Opening ceremony of the Hague Convention Conference on “International Family Law, Legal Cooperation and Commerce: Promoting Human Rights and Cross Border Trade in the Caribbean through the Hague Conference Conventions”, which was held earlier this evening at the Pegasus Hotel.
United Nations Children Fund’s (UNICEF) Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Ms. Maria Cristina Perceval, in her remarks, said that the hosting of the Conference, signals the commitment from the region and Guyana to the well-being of children.
“For UNICEF this event represents the Caribbean’s commitment, promise and robust political will to work together to build a stronger and better international legal environment for children and adolescents as it relates to private international law and for the protection of children,” she said.
Speaking on the impact of abduction on children, the UNICEF representative said that it is Conferences like these, which ensure that the frameworks are adequately determined and put in place to reduce such occurrences and also dissuade others.
“Although, not every abduction is preventable; the steps can be taken to reduce its likelihood. These steps have to be made with a system with a strong legal basis rooted in international norms and principles aimed at realising children’s rights. [Private International Law] builds on the standards of [the Rights of the Child Convention and International Human Rights] by establishing concrete requirement for their respect through the procedures it puts in place in the fields that it covers. In doing so Private International Law not only reflects Human Rights Law but also compliments to standards it sets by giving a practical dimension to implementation,” she said.
Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi, noted that the Conference represents success for the country and the organisation and thanked President Granger for his involved and strong stance in support of the hosting of the Conference.
Secretary-General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi, addressing attendees at this evening’s opening ceremony.
“…Today the great efforts of many people materialised; efforts that made it possible for us all to gather here; efforts that I am sure will shape Guyana’s and the Caribbean’s engagement with the Hague Conference for many years, indeed decades to come…I wish to express our deep gratitude to you Mr. President for your tremendous support and personal engagement that was so vital to seeing this event come to fruition,” he said.
Speaking also on the role the organisation plays in child rights and protection, Dr. Bernasconi noted that children need a special layer of legal protection the international environment. However, he added that at a wider level, the Hague Conference creates a level legal playing field for regional, local and international businesses.
“My research suggests that Guyana enjoys burgeoning cross border trade and commercial activities as well as an increasing degree of foreign investment in key industries… To do business here in the region local, regional and international businesses require an environment that is conducive to commercial investment activities. In particular, they require legal certainty and predictability. Foreign investors need to know the ‘rules of the game’ before investing here or doing business here. They need to know which law will apply to their cross border transaction, which court will have jurisdiction to hear litigation arising out of the transaction, what they can do with a Guyanese judgement so as to have it enforced abroad, what are the means of cross border cooperation at their disposal,” he said.
Dr. Bernasconi also thanked Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams, who he said immediately recognised the benefits that the HCCH could bring to Guyana.
A section of the attendees at this evening’s opening
Minister Williams, in his brief remarks, expressed thanks to the President for agreeing to host the Conference, as he noted that the President immediately recognised the importance the event will have on the lives of Guyanese children.
“As soon as I reached the support from the Conference I went to President Granger with a concept note, and the President, without hesitation, agreed and we were able to proceed. The Conventions…will pave the way to secure the best interests of our children and preserving the most important institution, the family,” he said.
As Guyana prepares to seek membership in the organisation, Minister Williams announced that he has nominated acting chief Justice, Madame Yonette Cummings-Edwards and High Court Judge, Madame Roxanne George-Wiltshire as Guyana’s representatives on the Hague’s Judges Network, which oversees the enforcement of Conventions, which have been adopted.