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Jul 12, 2018

Will Prime Minister Barrow be Compelled to Pay UHS Debt Via a Writ of Mandamus?

On Monday, an application was filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Belize Bank seeking permission for a judicial review to be conducted to compel Prime Minister Dean Barrow to pay the outstanding ninety million dollar Universal Health Services debt.  While government’s attorneys objected to the request, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin has granted leave, allowing the Belize Bank to bring forth a substantive claim.  The issue is compounded by the fact that a parliamentary vote is yet to be taken on whether the debt should be borne by the Government of Belize.  Solicitor General Nigel Hawke provided an update on the latest round of litigation.

 

Nigel Hawke

Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General

“We have just heard an application for leave for a judicial review.  We did object, but our objection was dispensed with and leave was granted by the Honorable Chief Justice on Monday.  So now we move to the stage where they have to file their substantive claim and then we will have to put in our defense in the matter.  The matter is now adjourned for the seventeenth of September, I believe.”

 

Reporter

“What exactly are they asking for in their claim before the Chief Justice?”

 

Nigel Hawke

“I think they are fundamentally saying that, they are asking that if the Minister of Finance has failed to do what he is supposed to in terms of trying to have the monies paid to them, I think that is what they are asserting.  So we assume that they are coming for a mandamus, something in the nature of a mandamus to compel the Minister of Finance to pay the monies.”

 

Reporter

“If indeed the court were to grant something like that and the parliament at some point votes on this particular issue and votes to tell the Minister of Finance no, what happens with the separation of powers there?”

 

Nigel Hawke

“Well that one, I will reserve my comment because that is exactly what the court will have to decide because if you look at the CCJ judgment, it says there are important matters of the rule of law that will have to be addressed in the matter and those issues will have to be ventilated.  So I don’t want to preempt what will happen so I will reserve any comment in relation to that matter.”

 

On November twenty-second, 2017, the Caribbean Court of Justice delivered a ruling in which it granted leave to the Belize Bank to pursue the enforcement of ninety million dollar award in respect of a debt owed by the defunct Universal Health Services.

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