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Dec 10, 2014

B.T.L. & B.E.L. Nationalizations Heard at CCJ

Lord Peter Goldsmith

Hearings started today at the Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad, which will determine the fate of B.T.L. and B.E.L., the two utility companies that were acquired from their owners by the government.  This morning, Senior Counsel Attorney Eamon Courtenay presented the case for British Caribbean Bank while Lord Peter Goldsmith, Queens Counsel, made submissions to the Court on behalf of Dean Boyce and the B.T.L. Employees Trust.

 

Lord Peter Goldsmith, Queen’s Counsel for Dean Boyce

“I summarize to say that the 2011 legislation by which we mean the Act, the Order and the Eight Amendment is unconstitutional because it circumvents or it is intended to circumvent the 2011 judgment. It is intended to prevent the court from assessing the question of public policy or public purpose in the future and directs the courts in the breach of separation of powers, what answers it should give to the question of what was the purpose. It also demonstrates that the whole legislation was for an improper purpose. Four points, I make, and they are wrapped together in one sense. But the improper purpose was to target one man by taking what was perceived to be his property, it violates rule of law by being deliberately designed to circumvent the 2011 judgment and to prevent courts scrutiny. Because it targets one man it is a harmful at hominine legislation and it violates a number of features of the constitution, natural justice, due process, equal protection of the law. We say non discrimination though we have not succeeded on that point, we raise it before your honor so am not going to say anything that is not in our written submissions; you have the right to property. Effective in the 2011 legislation submission was what we would term a legislative judgment designed to render the 2011 judgment nugatory. It is an inactive legislation to undermine the judgment, obviously it seemed to the government easier than appealing it. We make several points one is that when litigation against the crown is ongoing, we submit that the government can’t legislate retrospectively to undermine that litigation.”

 

Queen’s Counsel Ed Fitzgerald began presenting the case for Fortis. He is expected to wrap up Thursday morning to be followed by counsel for the Government, Denys Barrow. The hearing is expected to conclude on Friday. This case is the final appeal on the challenges to the B.T.L. and B.E.L. nationalisations. The CCJ will have to determine the validity of the acquisitions as well as the infamous Eighth Amendment to the Belize Constitution, which sought to enshrine government ownership of public utilities in the country’s constitution so as to be impervious to court challenge.

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3 Responses for “B.T.L. & B.E.L. Nationalizations Heard at CCJ”

  1. Kaila Moralez says:

    I hope Lord Micheal Ashcroft is successful in this appeal to CCJ because BTL has been operating at a loss ever since the nationalization. Also it is WRONG for the government to Legislate for the sole purpose of wantonly taking of someone’s property. Senator Godwin Hulse inplied in Senate meeting that the Finance and Audit ACT needs to be amended for the purpose to include what he term as,” Suppliers Credit,” which in his opinion would justify UDP illegal borrowing & Spending. So UDP has a pattern to love legislating to justify their wrong illegal doings.

  2. Ali BaBarrow sez says:

    On interview Ashcroft’s position is that GOB can nationalize, although it may be a bad business decision. His primary objection is that the owners (telecom union & cultural nonprofit corp) should be paid cash at fair market value. Instead GOB seized it, provided worthless IOUs at below market values; followed by nepotism, incompetence and a hollowing out of infrastructure to extract cash. Just like UDP is doing in other sectors of the economy. If the tourism industry implodes like agriculture the country will go into a more serious decline with higher unemployment and major collapse in the standard of living.

    Be sociable, share!

  3. Kikin says:

    Kaila Moralez, if only it were only “legislating” to take property. They even went as far as to change the constitution when the court first ruled against them. That should be some scary shit for any Belizean….it sure is for investors looking at Belize.

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