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Dec 23, 2015

Jack Charles Takes Rice Dispute to Court!

The ongoing logjam between the Belize Agricultural Health Authority, BAHA, and businessman Jack Charles, proprietor of R.C. Imports, over the importation of Guyanese rice will be settled in court.  With time running out to the Christmas holidays, this morning, an application for a judicial review of BAHA’s decision to detain the shipment of grain was filed by attorney Leroy Banner, who is legally representing Jack Charles’ interest.  The formal request comes almost one week after the arrival of three containers of bulk rice from Guyana.  While the consignment languishes at the port in Big Creek, attorneys on both sides are preparing to present their arguments in the Supreme Court.  The importer contends that he can retail Guyanese rice on the local market at a considerably lower cost per pound than what is presently available, that being sixty-nine cents per pound.  BAHA maintains that Charles failed to follow the necessary requirements to bring the containers of rice into the country and did not acquire the permits.  As a result, the three shipping vessels remain in custody in Big Creek indefinitely.  According to Banner, expediting the court procedure would mean that the Guyanese rice can still make it to shelves during this Christmas season.

 

Leroy Banner, Attorney for RC Imports

“From last week we were trying to get in touch with BAHA to find out exactly what the reason why they have detained our clients containers.  We have given them ample time, we wrote them, we called them and no one responded to our request as to please put in writing the reason as to why the containers are being held and we realize that it’s almost been a week now and we decided that they would not giving us anything in writing so we filed a motion for judicial review to seek the court’s permission as to whether or not, so that they can review and look at what BAHA did to see if they were justified in holding Mr. Charles’ containers.”

 

Reporter

“What is the application?”

 

Leroy Banner

“It is a judicial review and in law it’s just basically asking the Supreme Court to look at what BAHA did and see whether or not they acted lawfully.  That is basically it.”

 

Reporter

“So you’re not seeking any specific remedy from the court apart from for the court to determine whether or not BAHA had acted lawfully?”

 

Leroy Banner

“Yes.  Under the judicial review now we are seeking an order of mandamus, pretty much compelling BAHA to act because our position is that they acted unlawfully.  One: when they detained the containers and secondly, they also acted unlawfully when they refused to release the containers so we pretty much are asking the court to compel them, to force BAHA to release Mr. Charles’ containers or at least to give us reason as to why the containers are being detained.”

 

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