Astaphan denies conflict of interest claims against CCJ president

Dominican attorney Anthony Astaphan

Dominican attorney Anthony Astaphan has refuted allegations that President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Sir Dennis Byron’s role in a case brought against the Government of Dominica was a conflict of interest.

The allegation was made by attorney Cabral Douglas who said the conflict lies with Sir Dennis sitting as head of the regional court, while at the same time maintaining responsibility for the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC).

Douglas, who recently lost a lawsuit against the Dominica government at the CCJ, has written a letter of complaint to the RJLSC seeking an investigation and to have the February 2017 decision overturned.

He had petitioned the CCJ US $3 million stemming from the forced cancellation of a concert in February 2014 which had advertised Jamaican artiste Tommy Lee as the headline act.

Douglas also complained that Sir Byron was not present in court when the 18-page judgement, which prevented him from suing the government of Dominica in the matter, was handed down.

“We only learned that the judge was actually meeting with the defendant,” Douglas said. “I don’t know what the judge and the defense were discussing in their meeting. All I know is that the decision, which is fraught with irregularities, was delivered at the time when they were actually in each other’s company.”

In his letter of complaint to the RJLSC, dated April 6, 2017, Douglas cited seven irregularities in the adjudication of his matter.

He also called on the Commission to remove Sir Dennis as president citing “a breach of the root of natural justice”.

“The very own dictum that has been established by the CCJ says that ‘the main appearance of bias is sufficient to overturn any such decision’. This is enough shenanigans and irregularities for a court that is projecting and purporting to be the court to replace the Privy Council,” the Dominican lawyer said during an OBSERVER AM interview earlier this week.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)