U.S. Supreme Court Shuts Down Final Attempt to Avoid Arbitration Awards
The Government of Belize is on the hook for approximately one hundred and twenty million dollars after the United States Supreme Court today declined to hear the petitions for review of two judgments against G.O.B. – one in favour of Belize Social Development Limited (B.S.D.L.) and the other in favour of Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited, formerly BCB Holdings Limited and the Belize Bank Limited. A third, separate judgment for Newco Limited was also declined to be heard. B.S.D.L. sought enforcement of a London Court of International Arbitration award in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. in November, 2009. That court granted enforcement of the award in a judgment dated February, 2014 and that judgment was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in July, 2015. Caribbean Investment Holdings also sought enforcement of a London Court of International Arbitration award in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in July, 2014. That court granted enforcement eleven months later, which the Government appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In May of 2016, that court affirmed the judgment. The Government filed petitions for review known as certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court. Today’s decisions, according to an attorney representing Caribbean Investment, Louis B. Kimmelman, render these judgments final and not subject to any further appeal and paves the way for collection.
On the Phone: Louis Kimmelman, Attorney, Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited
“The judgments that we’re talking about here are United States court judgments and each country’s judgments can only be used to enforce, to obtain payments inside that country. So these judgments have been obtained as a result of litigation in the U.S. to obtain these judgments, and it does not prevent obtaining judgments in other countries if that is desirable.”
“So you’re awaiting any instructions from your clients in relation to what steps to take to enforce the judgments, or as you said it’s the Government’s move?”
On the Phone: Louis Kimmelman
“As far as I am concerned, we are finished…and now that the judgments are final, that they be satisfied.”
In the case of Newco, a group of investors got an arbitration award against the government for unlawfully cancelling its contract to develop the Philip Goldson International Airport and re-awarding the contract to a group which included Belizeans. G.O.B. had refused to honour the judgment and the case wound up in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied a hearing without comment. All in all, government now has to pay an additional one hundred and twenty million dollars, including interest.