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Dec 24, 2015

Mennonite Communities Join G.O.B. in Rice Litigation

Leroy Banner

On Christmas Eve, businessman Jack Charles was before the Supreme Court in a case he is bringing against the Government of Belize. The importer is seeking permission for a judicial review to legally examine the basis of a decision by the Belize Agricultural Health Authority to detain a cargo of bulk rice from Guyana. According to Charles the court is a last resort, having exhausted all means of getting a written explanation from BAHA on why the consignment remains in custody at Big Creek.  The application, filed on Wednesday, involves the Attorney General’s ministry and a trio of Mennonite communities, represented by Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, who joined on as an interested party.  This morning, in the chamber of Justice Sonya Young, attorneys Leroy Banner, Nigel Hawke, Eamon Courtenay and Iliana Swift met in closed session to schedule the dates for the proceedings.  Banner represents RC Imports.

 

Leroy Banner, Attorney, RC Imports

“Okay, basically what happened is that the AG’s ministry is saying that they need more time to prepare fully for the case, having received the affidavit about three o’clock in the afternoon.  So they made an application for it to be adjourned until they are properly apprised of the information.  So they needed more time to look at it.”

 

Reporter

“Has any date been set?”

 

Leroy Banner

“No.  What happens is that we come back here the thirty-first to make submissions, then on the fourth of January there will be a hearing.  Also, it happens that Mr. Courtenay is asking that the rice growers also joins as a party as well, so the court will hear submissions as to whether or not the rice growers will be added as a party to the claim.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney, Belize Agro-productive Sector Group

“I will apply on behalf of the Mennonite communities in Blue Creek, Spanish Lookout and Shipyard to be joined to these proceedings and the court will hear that application and the application by Mr. Charles for judicial review, whether he will get permission to apply for judicial review.  That will be done on Monday the fourth of January, 2016.”

 

Reporter

“Do you expect that the application for leave will be successful?  At least in the first instance?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Daniel, as you know, applications for permission are in many ways nearly routine.  This one is a little different for a number of reasons, one being of course, that it deals with the movement of a commodity and I’m not sure that this court has jurisdiction to determine whether or not rice can be imported into Belize.  I think if they confine their application to whether or not BAHA issued a permit or not to them, that’s a matter that doesn’t concern my clients and we would happily say to the court that we are not concerned with a fight between BAHA and Mr. Charles.  But the question whether or not rice can be imported is a far bigger issue and a different issue and one of the relief that they sought was for the rice to be imported into Belize and therefore we indicated to the court that in so far as that is concerned we wish to be heard.  I am not sure that leave is going to be granted to deal with any of this but certainly we would resist very strongly leave being granted for this court to entertain an application on whether or not rice can be imported into Belize.”

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