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Nov 4, 2014

Appeal Hearing Begins in Case of Telemedia Supreme Court Judgment

Eamon Courtenay

Great Belize Productions Limited was once a subsidiary of Belize Telemedia Limited through a trio of overseas companies. By the time the Government took over B.T.L., the companies had been removed as subsidiaries, but after the acquisition, B.T.L.’s new board sued and won a judgment in the Supreme Court which is now being appealed. According to attorney for former directors, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, the decisions of the past board were indemnified in the respect of the directors, that is, they are not personally liable for decisions and monies spent.  Courtenay and attorney Jose Alpuche argued the case today before the panel of Justices Minnet Hafiz-Bertram, Dennis Morrison and Christopher Blackman in the interest of releasing his clients from their long-standing wait for justice. Courtenay spoke to us after the end of a day of arguments in the Court of Appeal.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Former Directors

“The case before the Court of Appeal today arises from a claim by Belize Telemedia against its former directors saying that they took decisions when they were directors of the company that has caused a lost to Belize Telemedia and therefore they are suing the directors for breach, negligence and for acting ultra vires. However, the directors say that there is an indemnity in the articles of the company as well as a deed of indemnity which they all signed when they became directors which say that if in the exercise of their functions, loss results, the company will indemnify them. And so we are arguing that the matter should be struck out on the basis that the indemnity applies and therefore there is no cause of action against the directors.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Could you give us an idea of the amounts on the table right now?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“In excess of ten million [dollars].”

 

Mike Rudon

“Now you abandoned a ground, ground twelve, in order that the matter proceed with all haste. Could you speak to us about that?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Well what happened this morning is that we successfully amended the ground, the modus of appeal to amend a ground which is that the decisions taken were taken by an unlawful board of Belize Telemedia, because the decision was taken in April 2011 and the Court of Appeal has twice said that between 2009 and 2011, the board that was in power was not there lawfully because the act at the time was unlawful and this claim was a decision by that board. And therefore if you had no legal basis to be a director, you cannot make a decision to commence a claim. The court agreed that we can argue that point; however, Mister Young then applied for an adjournment until the next session of the Court of Appeal which is going to be in March or April, sometime next year. The part of the matter is that this is a 2012 Appeal; we are in 2014. Commercial reality goes on and people just cannot wait three years for an appeal to be argued. My instructions from my client was we need to have this appeal argued so that we can get on with our life and if there is going to be a traverse, then abandon it and let’s argue it. We just need to have the appeal heard.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Sir, could you tell us how this case affects the case which is currently before the Caribbean Court of Justice, the nationalization case?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“I think it is the other way around. That case will affect this one because that case will determine finally, hopefully, who is the right owners of Telemedia—whether the nationalization was valid and for what period. And if the CCJ finds that it was valid from 2009, then this case was properly brought. If they say that it was not valid or it was valid only for 2011, then this case will not be properly brought. So that case is going to impact on this one rather than the reverse.”

 

The appeal resumes on Wednesday with responses from B.T.L.’s attorney Senior Counsel Michael Young.  The nationalization case will be heard in December before the Caribbean Court of Justice.

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