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Feb 23, 2015

Mandamus Case Struck Out on Technicality

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

This morning, before Justice Shona Griffith, a battery of lawyers representing various parties, including the Government of Belize, the Belize Sugar Industry, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, the Sugar Industry Control Board and Lucilo Teck, met in session.  The substantive hearing followed a successful application several weeks ago by attorneys Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Anthony Sylvester and Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, on behalf of Teck and the B.S.C.F.A., to argue for a writ of mandamus.  The motion would have sought to persuade the court that the SICB is compelled by law to start the crop.  We say would have because shortly after being given the green light, a date for the commencement of harvest was announced.  While attorneys on the other side of the argument were of the impression that the matter would have subsequently been withdrawn, they were taken aback earlier today when Matura-Shepherd and Sylvester opted to proceed with the case.  Despite coming prepared to ventilate the issue, the case was struck out on technicality.  News Five spoke with all sides following the dismissal.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Attorney for Lucilo Teck

“Well you know we did not expect a strikeout today, we know they had made an application.  We were at the point where the judge was going to give us the time to respond to that application and we were very confident that we can win that argument.  However, Mr. Eamon Courtenay who represents one of the interested parties took another objection which was not the main objection made by the first and the second respondent.  And his objection was that when we filed the substantive claim we need to reproduce the first affidavit we had put in when we made the application.  Our view was that no, because we made mention that in the application we are still relying on that affidavit to be part of the evidence.  Moreover, the judge had already indicated in the order that all previous affidavits stand as evidence in the court.  Our argument is that when we put in an application to go before the court and there must be affidavit evidence accompanying it, the fact that you’ve said that there is already evidence before the court it was already sufficient to refer to it as part of the application.  It was a very unusual technical point and at the end of the day the court said or the judge said that she was minded not to take our position which is to allow the application an adjournment date to argue the other technical points.”

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