Court explains its ruling against sacked Governor
High Court Judge Randall Worrell made the right decision last month when he dismissed the interim injunction brought by attorney Gregory Nicholls on behalf of former Central Bank Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell.
This is the reason given by the Court of Appeal Friday for throwing out Worrell’s case last Thursday, which cleared the way for his firing one day later by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
After issuing its oral judgment last week, Acting Chief Justice Sandra Mason and fellow justices Andrew Burgess and Kaye Goodridge released their written ruling Friday, essentially upholding Justice Worrell’s February 17 decision to lift an interim injunction that was standing in the way of the Governor’s dismissal.
“To be fair [there] is no part of neither the appellant’s, nor the respondent’s case that [Justice] Worrell erred in this regard,” the Acting Chief Justice said as she read out the decision in the No.1 Supreme Court Friday morning.
She also said that Justice Worrell had relied on the “correct governing principles” in exercising his discretion in the matter after Nicholls had contended otherwise.
The lead attorney for the former head of the island’s monetary authority had also argued that Justice Worrell “fell into grave error” in determining the question of the balance of justice by focusing on the adequacy of damages and not the wider public interest element.
However, Justice Mason pointed out that the Governor had included in his fixed date claim form “an award of damages equivalent to the pecuniary loss”.
She said this was a clear admission on the former Governor’s part that compensation for damages suffered was available in this case.
As such, Justice Mason said her appeals panel saw “no legal or evidentiary” basis on which to interfere with Justice Worrell’s decision to discharge the interim injunction.
“It is self-evident that once [Justice] Worrell correctly decided . . . that damages would be an adequate remedy and that the Minister would be in a financial position to pay, that was the end of the matter,” the acting Chief Justice said.
As for concerns that the minister’s decision to terminate Worrell’s appointment as Governor had adversely affected his rights in his private capacity, including his reputation and international standing and that of the public interest, the Court of Appeal was simply not convinced that such had occurred.
“He [Nicholls] has not shown how the stability of this country or public administration would be adversely affected if Dr Worrell’s appointment is terminated by the Minister, and thus he has not displaced the presumption of the validity of the lawfulness of the actions of public authorities,” Justice Mason said.
In fact, she ruled that Nicholls’ contention was more supportive of the argument put forward by Solicitor General Jennifer Edwards, QC, who represented the Minister of Finance in the recent court battle, that the trust and confidence between Sinckler and Worrell, as well as that between Worrell and the Board of the Central Bank “had irretrievably broken down, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the minister to perform his duties in executing good public administration.
“In our judgment the public interest would weigh more heavily in favour of the minister not being restrained from performing the duties he has been empowered to carry out . . . in the interest of the Barbadian public than in favour of the appellant [Worrell],” the Court of Appeal panel said in its 32-page ruling.
Nicholls, who is said to be off island, was not present for today’s sitting, neither was the dismissed Governor, who was represented by attorney Rene Butcher.