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.
Press Statement - 11th January, 2017
RED HOUSE Lease Invalid - 29th December 2016.
The Red House is comprised of Lots 65, 66, and 67 and is held by Transport No. 915/1925 in the name of “The Colony of British Guiana,” and the lands called Colony lands.
The new owner is, “the Government of Guyana.” and the lands are “Government Lands.”
The status of being transported Government lands has not changed, as is reflected in the Register at the Deeds Registry, the last entry therein being the 1st September, 1925, date of transport.
At all material times there was a building on the said lots of land, now called “Red House” being subject to the Transport.
On the 21st March, 2000 the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre INC (CJRCI) was incorporated by Janet Jagan, Nadira Jagan-Brancier and Donald Romotar as “A NOT FOR PROFIT COMPANY.”
One of the objects of the Company was to “to establish a library and research facilities to contain the books, records and documents owned by Cheddi Jagan.”
Also in 2000 a lease between the Government of Guyana and the National Trust as Lessors and CJRCI as Lessees was drawn up but not executed.
On May 3, 2006 Mr. Donald Ramotar on behalf of the CJRCI made application to the Commissioner of Lands and Surveys (CL&S) for a lease of Red House lands and a file was opened and numbered 413112/11 in the Guyana Lands & Surveys Commission (GL&SC).
In 2010, a resubmission of the Application was made on a revised schedule (8/2006-Backlog Revision one-August 30, 2010) to the then Office of the President.
On January 11, 2011 this resubmission was also not approved as there is no evidence of any signature of the President on the purported Schedule only those of Doorga Persaud then CL&S and the Manager Land Administration Mr. Menzie.
On the 30th March 2012, a lease entered by Mr. Doorga Persaud CL&S on behalf of the Government of Guyana and Mr. Ralph Ramkarran SC. on behalf of the CJRCI was issued under Section 10 of the Lands Department Act, Chapter 59:01
Under the lease the Government purportedly leased to the CJRCI “all that piece or parcel of Government Land situate at Kingston, Georgetown more fully described as follows: -
“Area “A” now called Red House Comprising Lots 65, 66, and 67 High Street Kingston, situate in the City of Georgetown, County of Demerara.”
To hold the said premises for Educational & Research purposes for a term of ninety nine (99) years commencing from the 1st day of January, 2012, at an Annual rental of $12,000.00 (twelve thousand) dollars for the first three years.
It was further provided that the Government of Guyana could revise the annual rent payable, at the end of each and every three years.
THE RED HOUSE LEASE
It is submitted that the said lease is void for the following reasons: -
Section 10 (1) of the Lands Department Act chapter 59:01 Laws of Guyana provides: -
Government Lands shall only be rented or sold with the sanction of the President and on the terms and conditions determined by him.
This means that the President of Guyana must approve the Lease.
The question is how the President’s sanction of the creation of a lease under the said section 10, is manifested?
Government Lands are created when the President issues a grant of State Land to the CL&S and his successors.
Section 4 of the State Lands Act Chapter 62:01 provides:-
Whenever the President deems it expedient that any State Lands, should be converted into Government Lands, the President may issue a grant of those lands…. to the Commissioner and his successors in office for and on behalf of the State as Government Lands and thereupon such lands shall be held by the Commissioner and his successors in office as Government Lands.
The CL&S is the custodian of all Government Lands and since by the nature of a lease he would be the Lessor he can create a lease once he has a lessee. That is why there must be evidence of the President approving leases under Section 10 of the Lands Department Act Chapter 59:01.
It is apposite to note that the Land Department under the Lands Department Act Chapter 59:01 and under the state Lands Act Chapter 62:01 are one and the same, as is the Commissioner of Lands.
It is submitted that upon a proper perusal of file#413112/11 there is no formal evidence of sanction or approval by the President of the Day and the lease is invalid.
The Red House is established in the National Trust of Guyana Monuments Register (updated October 2016) as a Public Building/National Monument /Heritage Site.
The National trust is a body Corporate established under the National Trust Act Chapter 20:03 Laws of Guyana which is an, “Act to make provision for the preservation of monuments, sites, places and objects of historic interest or national importance.”
Under Section 2 of the said Act “Monument” includes: -
“any building, structure object or other “work of man “or of nature whether above or below the surface of the land or the floor “of the sea within the territorial waters “of Guyana any site, cave or excavation.
Section 2 of the said Act further provides: -
“the National Monument” means any monument declared to be a national monument under section 15 and includes any land comprising or adjacent to such a monument which in the opinion of the National Trust, is reasonably required for the purpose of maintaining the monument or the amenities thereof or for providing or facilitating access thereto or for the exercise of proper control or management with respect thereto.
By virtue of Section 3 (1) of the said Act
“……The National Trust shall not transfer, mortgage, lease, charge or dispose of any land without the approval of the Minister.”
It is submitted that there is no evidence of a formal approval by the Minister/President to lease the “Red House” a Public Building/National Monument/Heritage site to the CJRCI. The unsigned draft lease agreement of 2000 suggests a disinclination on the part of the Minister/President to approve such a transaction.
SECTION 13 DEEDS REGISTRY ACT CHAPTER 5:01
It is submitted that the said lease is invalid for failure to conform to the provisions of Section 13 of the Deeds Registry Act Chapter 5:01 Laws of Guyana relating to a lease for a term of 21 (twenty one) or more years.
Section 13 (1) provides inter alia: -
No lease of immovable property expressed to be for a term of 21 (twenty-one) years or more……………………… shall………… be good, valid or effectual in law or pleadable in any Court of Justice in Guyana unless passed and executed before the Court in like manner as a transport and filed as of record in the registry.
Sections 13 (3) provides that every long lease mentioned in subsection (1) passed and executed before the Court and filed as of record in the Registry shall be annotated by the Registrar against the property leased.
Section 13 (2) provides that failure to file the lease of immovable property as of record in the Registry renders it not, “good, valid or effectual in law or pleadable in any Court of Justice in Guyana.”
It is submitted that the ‘Red House’ Lease of 99 years was not executed in the manner of a transport, that is, advertised and passed before the Court; nor was it filed as of record and annotation made against the Property by the Registrar of Deeds.
In conclusion all parties knew that Red House at all material times was a heritage site, both building and lands, under the National Trust Act Chapter 20:03. The Lessors in 2000 refused to sign a purported lease between the Government of Guyana the National Trust as Lessors and the CJRCI as the Lessee.
After application was made by Donald Romotar on behalf of the CJRCI in May 2006 and file #413112/11 opened, no approval was granted by any President of the day.
On 30th day of March 2012 the Red House lease was purportedly executed by the CL&S and Mr. Ralph Ramkarran S.C. for the lessees. Again there was no formal approval by the President of the Day, nor the National Trust, rendering the lease invalid, and a nullity in law. The President can properly revoke it.
The Red House lease was birthed in darkness to hide its unlawfulness from the scrutiny of justice.
State lawyers begin training in new civil procedure rules - Guyana Times - 13th December, 2016
Top Caribbean jurists here for Seminar - The Guyana Chronicle - 9th December 2016
The US Embassy - 30th November 2016
The US Embassy’s Public Affairs Officer (PAO) Ms Amanda J. Cauldwell paid a courtesy visit to The Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs on the 30th November, 2016 at his Chambers.
As PAO, Ms. Cauldwell noted that her office provides support to the Ambassador, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) and other Embassy offices among other responsibilities.