The Belize Bar Association had filed an application for consent orders to the Supreme Court of Belize and the Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad and Tobago to look into the legality of the acquisitions of BEL and Fortis by the Government of Belize. Today was the final hearing, which was to have some orders which were agreed upon between the government and the appellants confirmed. Attorney for the Government of Belize, Senior Council Denys Barrow says that the application from the Belize Bar Association was purely driven by politics and the Bar was misguided in making that decision. Barrow says this is the end of all Litigation in relations to the nationalizations.
“The Bar really was misguided; they allowed themselves to be led by a political motivation in making this application. Had they thought about it properly, had they distanced themselves from the politics which drove them, they would not have made this application. You saw what took place, the court gave them an opportunity to persuade the court, “why we should not refuse your application.” Gave them very short thrift, didn’t even call upon any of the other lawyers to say anything just to say that they have basically wasted their time. It is the end of all litigation in relation to the nationalizations.”
Barrow says that there is a possibility that the Bar may want to go to the CCJ and if they do the decision is entirely up to them.
“There is a possibility, as you might know, yesterday the Court of Appeal gave a judgment in relation to the 6th amendment. Again the Bar lost soundly on that one but if they decided that they want to spend time and money and go to the CCJ it is entirely open to them to do so.”
President of the Bar, Eamon Courtenay, says that the Bar applied for a tumbling order which is to stay the appeals so that the parties’ settlement can take effect. The appeals remains before the court but the parties are implementing the settlement agreements. Courtenay spoke on the difficulties of the application they made to the court.
“The appeal remains before the Court but the parties are implementing the settlement agreements which will all be made public and they only remain before the Court in the event that there is a term that is not complied with, we can go back to the Court and ask the Court to enforce that term. Our expectation is that as the Government has complied with virtually all terms of the agreements that the few that are remaining that they will comply with them and therefore there will be no need for us to come back to the Court. Well the difficulty with the Bar Association’s application, aside from it being so late, as the court rightly pointed out, the difficulty with it is that this is an appeal between the Government and the respective parties and those parties have settled their differences. Now the Bar wants to come into the Court and in fact, their application was to oppose the granting of the stay that the Court ordered and it’s rather difficult to comprehend where the two parties have settled their differences for a third party to come and say, “I want you to stop that and not grant them a stay”. The Bar also wanted the Court to hand down decisions on the Public Law issues, by that they mean, the amendments to Section 2, Section 69 and the addition of part 13 of the Constitution. Once the party had settled their difference that became academic. The difficulty why we had to oppose it was that if the court were to hand out a decision, even though it is academic, it would be on the record and people will jump on it and use it to say the settlement can be undermined because the court had said this and that. So, the finality that we had hoped for and the finality that we achieved would not have been achieved and the prejudice to the settlement was likely and therefore for those reasons we certainly have to oppose it.”