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No wasting of the court’s time

By By Shara Reid Norman Manley Law School

After initiating no less than six proceedings in a range of different courts, Delroy Garraway’s claim was brought to a final rest in the Caribbean Court of Justice. In Garraway v Williams [2011] CCJ 12 (AJ), after dismissing Mr Garraway’s appeal, the CCJ ordered him to give up possession of certain disputed property within two months to Alvin Rambarran, the new owner of the property.

Garraway had taken the owners of a piece of land to the High Court of Guyana in order to force them to sell the land to him. He failed on that occasion. He appealed to the Court of Appeal and he was again unsuccessful. He subsequently brought the same matter to the Land Court, failed, then appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal and failed again. He appealed to the CCJ which had to decide whether, on Garraway’s second trip, the Court of Appeal, was correct in finding that his claim in the Land Court was barred based on the legal doctrine of res judicata.

The judges looked at doctrine of res judicata and noted that its purpose was to prevent continued litigation between the same parties about the same matter. The doctrine serves to bar “the same parties from litigating on the same claim or any other claim arising from the same transaction or subject-matter that was or could have been raised in the first suit”. Garraway’s case fitted squarely within the scope of this doctrine.

Consequently, since, on Garraway’s first trip, the Court of Appeal addressed his complaint concerning possession of the piece of land the doctrine of res judicata applied. He would not be allowed to re-litigate the same matter with the hope of securing his desired result. In fact, the Court also found Mr Garraway’s unfounded persistence to be an abuse of the court’s process. He failed once again.

This summary is intended to assist the Caribbean public in learning more about the work of the CCJ. It is not a formal document of the Court. The judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document and may be found at http://chooseavirb.com/ccj/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/JUDGMENT-FINAL-CV-1-of-2011.pdf

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