“Forum Shopping” Behind Trial of Belize Bank Case?
The question of whether or not the case is deliberately being retried is also central to the argument. According to Barrow, government decided at the eleventh hour to challenge the enforcement proceedings. Despite being able to mount a successful legal challenge, the Ashcroft Group is seeking enforcement in another jurisdiction. Barrow says that is a deliberate attempt at searching through multiple courts in order to file or transfer the case to a jurisdiction that is most likely to give a favorable result.
Denys Barrow, Attorney for Government of Belize
“The position of the government at that stage is that it would not be taking part in the arbitration because we challenged the right that they exercised to arbitrate. So there was that challenge. But belatedly we made the challenge when they brought enforcement proceedings and we succeeded. So we in the Belize court were able to succeed in establishing that the underlying agreement was void and illegal.”
“Under the New York Convention shouldn’t they be free to, you call it forum shopping, but shouldn’t they be free to go to another jurisdiction which may find that the deed or contract is valid?”
“Oh yes, they are entirely free to go to another jurisdiction. They are free to choose which jurisdiction they will go to, but there is, of course, a catch to it. If you come to a court, you are coming to the court on the basis that the court will finally and conclusively determine the question. Having come to this court to finally and conclusively determine the question, you cannot be allowed if you don’t like the decision of this court to go to another court.”
“Now the other side is accusing you of trying to re-litigate a matter that has been resolutely settled by the CCJ.”
Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Belize Bank Ltd.
“Right. And you would have heard me this morning say that Mr. Barrow conceded yesterday that the CCJ judgment did not have an impact on the US judgment. Now I know that that is fairly complex law but the point of the matter is, what was before the CCJ was whether or not the award should be enforced in Belize and the CCJ took a decision on the basis of the law in Belize. What was before the court in the United States was not whether the Belize law says that public policy should allow enforcement or not. What it was was whether the U.S law allows enforcement.”