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Aug 16, 2011

Previews of how Court may view constitutional amendments

Godfrey Smith

Today’s special leave of the Caribbean Court of Justice also brought several important factors that will guide the battle for Telemedia ownership.  The Boyce and BCB attorneys successfully argued their case previously on June twenty fourth 2011, when the Court of Appeal’s declaratory judgment said that the 2009 Belize Telecommunications Amendment Act, which gave the government ability to acquire the property and the 2009 order were both null and void. The government then trumped the courts by passing another nationalization statute.  The Boyce and BCB attorneys’ case will argue that the Court of Appeal should have given them consequential or possession orders to make the judgment effective. The CCJ did point out that it can’t rule on the proposed ninth amendment of the Belize Constitution until it goes through its natural process in court.  But the question of altering certain rights and privileges in the constitution was still debated outside the courtroom by the attorneys using some of the examples used by the justices during the teleconference.

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Dean Boyce

“We also had in the application a relief, an injunction to stop the passage of the ninth amendment bill. You will recall, however, that though the court did not grant it, one of the justices in particular; Mister Justice Hayton, said words to the effect that it doesn’t matter whether you get that injunction or not because if the act is constitutional, you can come to the court and challenge it. And he gave an example that if parliament for instance attempted to make legal slavery; obviously that’s not something that could stand. So it was our view that he was making the point that even though the government was attempting to bar the court from inquiring into the constitutionality and validity of the acquisition that, as he saw it, the court would be able to do that.”

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for British Caribbean Bank

Eamon Courtenay

“When the government keeps saying to us that once they pass an amendment to the constitution, there is no court that can set it aside, the CCJ and in the two examples given by one of the judges today; said that that is absolutely not so and the example is important.  The Government of Belize says that once it follows section 69, it can do what it wants. The fundamental point Jules is, as I said to the court this morning, the ninth amendment is designed to slam the door of the courts shut in the face of the Belizean people. The CCJ nor the Supreme Court of Belize is going to allow this government to hijack our democracy in this way.”

Lois Young, Attorney for GOB

“What the court has done is to verify what the Prime Minister has been saying from the start; that you can challenge constitutional amendments. That’s what the court has said, the CCJ has said that. So all the naysayers who said no we can’t, therefore we can’t; that is not true; you can challenge it.”

Lois Young

Jules Vasquez, 7 News

“And this one may be challenged”

Lois Young

“Yes because the court, the CCJ has said so. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is that they have refused to stop the process of passage of the constitutional amendment. They refused that injunction—they will not interfere with the legislative process.”

Godfrey Smith

“If that’s the position taken by the government, why they sought to write into the constitution in such clear, ample and absolute terms that the court had an absolute bar against it from inquiring on any grounds whatsoever? What they are hoping for is that they can drag this out sufficiently long so that when such challenges are brought before the Supreme Court; that we will not succeed and they can drag this out for a very long time.”

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1 Response for “Previews of how Court may view constitutional amendments”

  1. Chance says:

    Facial Expressions 101..

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