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Jun 9, 2015

G.O.B. Withdraws Appeal of Supreme Court Decision in Favor of OCEANA

Leslie Mendez

Just over a week ago, it was announced that Barrow and Company, the attorneys acting on behalf of the Government of Belize, had withdrawn an appeal against the April 2011 decision of then-Supreme Court Justice Oswell Legall in favour of OCEANA Belize and its activist partners, COLA and the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage. The N.G.O.s were challenging six production sharing agreements (PSAs) signed by a previous administration. Justice Legall declared the PSAs null and void because no environmental impact assessment was carried out before making the agreements and the agreements were entered into with companies, who did not demonstrate appropriate capabilities.  He also ordered an injunction restraining the government from carrying out the provisions of the challenged PSAs.  Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin shortly thereafter stayed that injunction pending appeal of the case. But with no appeal, the injunction has no further effect, and so he discharged the stay this morning in chambers. Attorney appearing on behalf of OCEANA, Leslie Mendez, spoke to reporters.

 

Leslie Mendez, Attorney

“What the Chief Justice did today and this was done with the consent of both parties, or all parties, what he did was to lift the stay of the execution of the injunction that was given or ordered by Justice Legal; so that what is now in play is that the decision of Justice Legal is in full effect in Belize.”

 

Reporter

“Just break down for us what the decision of Justice Legal was?”

 

Leslie Mendez

“The decision of Justice Legal was that indeed the decision of the PSAs were indeed unlawful, null and void and in consequence of that, he injuncted the Minister servant agents and everyone acting under the authority of the Ministry to act in accordance with the PSAs on the basis that they were invalid.”

 

Reporter

“So, this one was about the decision earlier this month not to proceed with the appeal of Justice Legal decision in the Supreme Court, is that correct?”

 

Leslie Mendez

“Yes, what happened is that we had also filed an appeal of the decision of the CJ to stay that judgment and the respondent had also filed an appeal, appealing the decision of Justice Legal. So, last month we were notified that the Government had indeed withdrawn its appeal of the decision of Justice Legal and so that is the basis on which we came to court to make this application on the basis that there is no appeal now, so there is no reason for the stay.”

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