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CCJ dismisses claim brought by Belize Bank against GOB

On Friday, the Caribbean Court of Justice delivered a judgment in the last two of three post judgment applications between the Belize Bank Limited and the Attorney General of Belize, all of which were heard on March 14, 2018. The CCJ gave its decision on the Bank’s application for enforcement orders against the Minister of Finance. In 2017, the CCJ authorized the Bank to enforce a multimillion dollar international arbitration award against the Government. Ultimately the Belize Bank Limited was seeking an order directing the Minister of Finance to pay the 2013 arbitral award. However, parliament needs to approve the allocation of the monies to pay the enforcement orders. President of the CCJ Sir Dennis Byron said the bank’s application was premature, dismissing the case. Appearing on behalf of the Government was Solicitor General Nigel Hawke

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General of Belize: “Fundamentally the CCJ dismissed the bank’s application. I think the bank was seeking to have the enforcement orders made there and fundamentally what the CCJ did was decline jurisdiction and said that that should quite properly be done at the Supreme Court of Belize level. So they dismissed the application and awarded cost to the Government of Belize. The matter is not at an end I’m sure so you would know that I can’t comment too much further but I can’t say what will be at this point the next move I will have to await instructions from my superiors.”

Reporter: The bank was asking the CCJ to issue an enforcement order I believe for the finance minister to pay up.

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General of Belize: “And they were asking for an order of mandamus to compel the Minister of Finance to pay but those were not ordered and the application was dismissed. I think the thinking was that they should make, start those proceedings if they want to in the Supreme Court.”

Reporter: Also I believe the CCJ considered the fact that for those monies to be issued it needed to be taken to parliament.

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General of Belize: “I think that is common ground that there must be some parliamentary approval in respect to the monies and then fundamentally I think in the ruling I think the CCJ also confirmed that under section 25 of the Crown Proceedings act the monies owing is not a charge on the consolidated revenue fund. So that follows that you need some type of approval.”

Reporter: You would agree the CCJ president said the application was premature and they would give the Government of Belize the benefit of the doubt to take the matter to the house.

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General of Belize: “Right they did say it was premature for the precise reason that the orders, at least the relief which they sought at the CCJ ought properly to have been brought at the level of the Supreme Court.”

Reporter: Do you expect that happening anytime soon ?

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General of Belize: “I’m not sure. I mean I can’t preempt what they will do but perhaps they will proceed with their action in the Supreme Court.”

Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay represented Belize Bank Limited.