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GOB withdraws claim to discharge injunction

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In this morning’s court session before the Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin, the Government of Belize applied for the court to have the injunction on the April 10 writ, discharged.  Representing the Government of Belize was Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman, who made the application based on the fact that the specific date to which the injunction referred to, no longer exists and the writ had expired. In his rebuttal, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, who represents the PUP, did not dispute the factual evidence supporting the application but he did take issue with the application itself. Courtenay told the Court that his clients have applied for a cross appeal at the Court of Appeals and in light of that the court may not have jurisdiction to discharge the injunction.  The court adjourned at midday and was back in session by three o’clock this afternoon.  It was in the afternoon session that Senior Counsel Shoman withdrew the application.  Here’s how she explained the withdrawal.

Lisa Shoman – Attorney: “Last week I did inquire of the claimant’s attorneys and what would be their position. Since this is really a formality more than anything else, they said they were consulting and they kept on consulting: Thursday, Friday and all the way into Saturday. This morning they came to court with two cases to say that these were technical objections that the court could not vary, discharge or do anything with its order because of the appeal in the Court of Appeal. That is a very technical ground and you will appreciate that no lawyer who is given two cases just before court starts is going to pretend to be able to respond to that and so the Chief Justice kindly gave us time to look them over, I looked them over, there were strong bases for being able to differentiate what the cases were saying from what is the position before the court however I have a duty and an obligation to consult with the defendants. I did so and specifically because Mr. Courtaney stood up in court and said this morning that the claimants had no issue with the factual basis of what was contained in those affidavits, that the defendants decided since really what the bottom line is, is that it is a moot point, that we would simply withdraw the application and knowing that there is no challenge to next week’s Referendum, that a withdrawal was taken rather than prolong a fight that was no longer necessary at all.”

Courtenay also spoke to the media about what transpired in court.

Eamon Courtenay – Attorney: “The Government applied to lift the injunction that the Chief Justice had granted on the 3rd of April and we took an objection to the application. We said to the Chief Justice that they had appealed his decision and we have cross-appealed and there for this matter was in the Court of Appeal. That being the case we said that the Chief Justice had no further jurisdiction to deal with the injunction. To put it in a very simple way, what we said to the court was that once again the Government had come to the wrong court with the wrong application seeking to have the injunction discharged. They asked for time, the Chief Justice gave them until three o’clock this afternoon and when they return to court, without expressly saying so there in effect said that they withdrew their application so effectively they have said that we are right and they wrong. I think the focus is on the wrong thing, you have to understand that the claimants in this case are challenging the Special Agreement and the Chief Justice you will recall said that he didn’t think that we made out an arguable case on the Special Agreement limb which we have taken to the Court of Appeal. We want the Court of Appeal to rule on that so that we can have a determination as to whether or not the Special Agreement is constitutional. If this injunction is lifted, it will have removed the foundation on which our appeal rested and therefore we had to resist that and so that matter remains in the Court of Appeal and we have every hope and confidence that we will prevail in the Court of Appeal on this issue. It is a very important constitutional law issue where these representatives have not had a chance to debate the Special Agreement.”

The case has been adjourned to June 24.

 

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