Belize Bank Limited Hoping to Lift Injunction on Arbitral Award
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin has reserved judgment in the case of the Belize Bank Limited and the Government of Belize after hearing submissions from both parties. A second day of litigation resumed this morning in the Supreme Court where a cadre of lawyers, led by senior counsels Eamon Courtenay and Denys Barrow, concluded their arguments. They are involved in a lawsuit over the enforcement of arbitral awards granted by the United States Supreme Court in favor of the Ashcroft-related company. A recent pronouncement by the Caribbean Court of Justice was that the award cannot be applied in Belize. But a subsequent injunction granted by Justice Michelle Arana is being challenged in the high court. The crux of that argument is whether or not the court order should be lifted or allowed to remain permanently. Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited, an incorporation of the Belize Bank and BCB Holdings, is prohibited from enforcing a fifty million U.S. dollar award which has been decided upon by the United States Supreme Court. Senior Counsel Denys Barrow outlines government’s position.
Denys Barrow, Attorney for Government of Belize
“I think it was a well-balanced presentation. I think we both made very full the points upon which we rely. We have two different approaches to the case. We said that the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice constitutes a bar to their having proceeded in the U.S. and it should, the Belize court should stop them from going any further in the U.S. proceedings. They say that the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice is limited to enforcement in Belize and should not bar them from doing anything in the States.”
“Now it was a quite revealing moment as the case wended on that both sides, you di seh you noh got no assets and he di seh he noh want it…”
“No. That’s the beauty of it, he neva seh ih noh want it. That is exactly it. It was, I think, an almost cute stance but very seriously taken that if the Government of Belize seh dehn no have no assets then they don’t need an injunction. Of course our response is immediately, then if you accept weh we seh then why are you pursuing this enforcement order in the United States? Drop it and we wahn drop this case.”
Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Belize Bank Ltd.
“First of all, the Prime Minister has said that there are no government assets that can be attached. The question is, if that is true then why is he seeking an injunction? I think it’s very difficult to understand. As to whether there are assets that can be attached in the United States, that’s a matter for the U.S. attorneys to answer. I am not qualified to practice in the U.S.; I am not qualified to speak on the implementation or the applicability of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act so I would prefer not to speak on that. I think there is a serious issue here to be tried. My clients have the benefit of an arbitration award. They have the benefit of a judgment and the honorable thing to do is to pay these judgments and to pay the award and that is what they are seeking.”