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Oct 15, 2015

Bar Association Says CCJ Decision was Necessary

Andrew Marshalleck

Despite criticism that the motion brought before the Caribbean Court of Justice was essentially an academic exercise, Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck says that a decision on the validity of the Eighth Amendment was necessary.  After all, a great deal of time and resources had been expended on the process leading up to a judgment from the appellate court.  The dismissal of the application by the CCJ, says the seasoned attorney, puts them back at square one in the Bar Association’s argument before the Court of Appeal.

 

Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney, Bar Association

“The application by the Bar was to intervene in the case to ask the court to proceed to give a decision on the constitutionality of the eight amendment to the Constitution of Belize.  Notwithstanding the settlement, the basis for the request was that the proceedings were already near conclusion, it was only awaiting a decision.  All the arguments had been put, and extensively put at that so that we felt that given that the issue remains live and will be coming before the CCJ in any event, that it would be beneficial to still get a decision in the public interest and therefore made a request to the court for that to be done.  The request was dismissed out of hand.  I understand that the reason given had to do with the lateness of the proceedings, the stage at which we sought to intervene, that it was too late.  It is interesting that the day before, yesterday the Court of Appeal handed down a decision in the Bar’s challenge to the sixth amendment to the constitution and that challenge to the sixth amendment to the constitution, in part, rests upon the very basic structure doctrine that was advanced in the challenge to the eight amendment to the constitution which are the nationalization appeals.  So that one of the grounds of appeal sought to rely upon Sections Two and Sixty-nine as amended by the eight constitution, to say that the trial judge Mr. Justice Legall was wrong to find the sixth amendment to the constitution unconstitutional, as he had done.  So that if the Bar is to appeal that decision the very arguments that were put in the eight [amendment] as to the invalidity of sections two and sixty-nine will have to be put all over again before the CCJ and the process starts entirely anew.  We just felt that, many of us at the Bar just felt that that was a waste of resources and that it was worth, in the circumstances, to ask for the court to nonetheless give the decision on the Eighth [Amendment].”

 

Late this evening, a release from the Bar further says that, “Sections two and sixty-nine were amended by the Government to provide in short that, so long as any amendment to the Constitution has been made with the requisite parliamentary majorities, such an amendment cannot be successfully challenged in a court of law. The Supreme Court of Belize found that the amendments made to sections two and sixty-nine were unconstitutional. The Court of Appeal in a split decision of two to one decided that those provisions were constitutional. The Association had hoped that a decision from the CCJ would finally put this uncertainty in the law to rest.”

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