Court of Appeal to hold another emergency hearing on EMBD matter; will judge’s recusal be accepted?

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Court of Appeal to hold another emergency hearing on EMBD matter; will judge’s recusal be accepted?

Justices of Appeal Nolan Bereaux, Mark Mohammed and Maria Wilson will announce on Thursday whether they will all step aside from delivering a decision in the appeal before them, in the matter concerning Estate Management Business Development Company Ltd’s multi-million-dollar cartel claim involving a group of contractors and a former minister.

It will also be revealed whether Justice Wilson’s earlier recusal will be accepted.

Wilson stated on Monday that she had to step down, because her brother, attorney Fulton Wilson, was a member of the EMBD board from December 2015-January 2021.

She said she believed information she received from her brother affected her ability to continue on the panel.
“Despite my willingness to continue, it is pellucid to me there is an imperative to ensure justice is not only done but seen to be done.”

Wilson said it was important to ensure the appearance of the impartiality of the panel on which she sat was maintained, as it was critical to maintain the public’s confidence in the Judiciary.

Attorneys for the contractors who filed the appeal accepted her recusal. Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, who represents them, said while it was “unfortunate,” they had no alternative but to accept the judge’s decision.

Maharaj said Wilson had satisfied the requirement in law to recuse herself from the appeal.

At variance with this position were attorneys for the EMBD, who, at Monday’s hearing, asked the judges to allow them to make submissions on the recusal.

King’s Counsel David Phillips said the threshold for recusal had not been crossed and it would be wrong to direct Justice Wilson to do so.

“A professional judge will determine the issues dispassionately.”

He said since the court allowed the parties to make further submissions on the issue, it did not treat the judge’s position on Monday as determinative, otherwise an order would have been given.

He said for the judge to continue, she would have to consider whether doing so would cause her “concern or embarrassment.” However, Phillips said they will accept whatever the panel decides.