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Sep 20, 2016

Dunkeld and Government Told to Work Out B.T.L. Settlement

A three-judge panel of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) this morning advised attorneys representing Dunkeld International Investments, The B.T.L. Employees Trust and the Government of Belize to work out with all possible speed the settlement of the amount due from the government to the former shareholders of Belize Telemedia. Otherwise the court will step in to settle the dispute.  Arguments were heard for two hours by video-conference between their Port of Spain based CCJ and the Belize Supreme Court this morning. Dunkeld and the Trust have challenged the Government’s interpretation of the settlement agreement by which the government paid the former shareholders in Belize dollars and U.S. dollars. They argue that the payment due on thirteenth July should have been made all in U.S. dollars and not the currency split as argued by the government. While the CCJ did not make a ruling at this time, there is a clear indication that the government must pay all in U.S. dollars. Senior Counsel Denys Barrow explained what will be the Government’s moves. Dunkeld’s attorney, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, detailed the Court’s thoughts after the hearing ended just after eleven.

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Dunkeld International Investments

“As you know, the Government and the former shareholders of Belize Telemedia settled their dispute by way of a Settlement Agreement, which was brought to the Caribbean Court of Justice for them to make a Settlement Order, in what we call a Tomlin order. The first payment that was to be made was a payment on the thirteenth of July, and Government has paid most of that money in Belize dollars – approximately one hundred and thirty-odd million dollars in Belize dollars and about roughly thirty-odd million in U.S. dollars. Our position is that the Settlement Agreement requires the Government to make all of that amount in U.S. dollars. The Government disagreed. As a result, we therefore brought an application to the Caribbean Court of Justice seeking a declaration from the Court that the Government is obliged to make the payment all in U.S. dollars, and two, to order them to pay that amount in U.S. dollars. The Court heard us, Mister Barrow and myself, for an hour each this morning, and at the end of it, the Court did not make a ruling. It told us to go away, and suggested very strongly that the matter should be settled, that the indication – not a decision and I want to be clear – was that we are entitled to be paid in U.S. dollars and therefore the parties should try to resolve it; we are to return on the twenty-ninth and if the parties cannot resolve it, the court will make a decision.”

 

Denys Barrow

Denys Barrow, Attorney for Government of Belize

“As you say, it will be a matter of discussing with the other side, and seeing if we can agree on a compromise. We have our position, which is the Accommodation Agreement value should be for the benefit of the people of Belize, and all of it should be for the benefit of the people of Belize. Their side is that the Accommodation Agreement value, which should be for the benefit of the people of Belize, should be reduced.”

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