GUYANA THE LAND OF MANY COURT CASES
“We had bought that land a while but it was held up in litigation with Toolsie Persaud so for eight years we had to wait.” These are the words of Nazar ‘Shell’ Mohammed published in Stabroek News on Friday May 13. This type of litigation has become commonplace in Guyana cumulating in huge amounts of time and money spent behind court cases in Guyana. The 25-acre property at Providence, East Bank Demerara, sat idle when it could have been developed and provide employment and equity gains.
Such pitfalls can be avoided if the Laws of Guyana regarding real estate (land, waterways, properties, and deeds) can be better utilized if only the country’s laws can be upgraded to present day standards. It is irrefutable that a vast array of procedures are ambiguous and therefore subjected to several interpretations, as opposed to clear cut provisions. The election fiasco in 2020 is the most salient example, and in the manner of a huge preponderance of cases, ultimately reach the pinnacle jurisprudence in the Apex Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad.
Properties are sold without the owner’s knowledge or consent while land titles are transferred in clandestine – yet legal—procedures. Such is the oxymoronic function of an archaic legal system where the guardians of the law are the chief law breakers: Ask any driver who was confronted by the police.
The latest filing in a litany of lawsuits comes on the heels of some 16,000 acres land and quarry dispute valued (over US$ 25 million) in the Itaballi, Essequibo region. Clashes for real estate ownership will perpetually dwell throughout the courts–the offshoot of poorly construed laws.
Guyana’s archaic laws are shrouded in ambivalence, controversy and ambiguity and many times are unable to provide for true justice. Notwithstanding, properties under litigation have stymied economic growth. Two sectors of such impotent legislation that need urgent reformation are the Deeds Registry and Traffic Offence Procedures which has seen the latter as a toothless Doberman where the death of a person is classified as ‘Causing Death by Dangerous Driving’ instead of Vehicular Manslaughter. Additionally, such killings that occur while drivers are intoxicated should upgrade to ‘Criminal Homicide’. With modern efficient Laws, coupled with rational sentencing the society will save billions wasted on litigation.
Leyland Chitlall Roopnaraine