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Jun 11, 2012

Is Telemedia under illegal occupation?

Attorneys for Dean Boyce and British Caribbean Bank, Godfrey Smith and Eamon Courtenay, agree that since the acquisition order is declared null, then Telemedia is under illegal occupation.

 

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Dean Boyce and First Caribbean Bank

“It is an eighty page judgment to begin with which we have not fully digested. We’ve quickly gone over it and what it appears to be, well obviously some sections of the acquisitions are declared invalid and some are declared valid; some sections of the Eight Amendment are declared valid and some are declared invalid. What we’ve been able to get is in terms of the core, is that acquisition order, that SI signed by the Minister seventy of 2011 is invalid which suggests that the acquisition is bad in law however the judge goes on to say to order really that no consequential relief is granted and then oddly orders the parties to sit and discuss compensation starting August twelfth, sorry August first; so the upshot is that on the one hand it seems he is saying that on the one hand the way it was done was bad but at the same time he is saying that I’m not granting any consequential relief and that is something we need to look at much more carefully after we go back to our offices and have a look at it.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“But at the end of the day, the status quo remains in place; no one is going to take over B.T.L. as in the prior case?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Dean Boyce and First Caribbean Bank

“Well I don’t know if actions will be taken, what I would say is that based on the decision of Justice Legall which he just handed down, the people who are in that building and in charge of that building, like your father, are in unlawful occupation of that building and it should not be lost on them that the judge has said that the acquisition of that company and my client, the bank’s interest, is unconstitutional; now, I’m not sure that anybody is going to forcefully try and take possession because I have no doubt that the government will bring out its army and police again and get them to resist that. But for the present purposes, they are in unlawful occupation.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“So, now where do you all go with this? I know that talks of compensation are already underway. I don’t understand the instructions for talks to proceed when I know they are afoot already. Will you all go to appeal; will you all meet on August the first?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Well, we have to take instructions from our clients and we also have to study the decision to see whether or not we should appeal. From a quick review of it, those portions that the judge has struck down seems to us to be the most offensive parts so our client may be satisfied with that but then there are of course very important legal issues at play here. We haven’t had a chance to discuss with our clients the results or to take instructions but I want to emphasize again, the people in that building are in unlawful occupation; they need to start paying the bank its money or its likely that further steps will have to be taken.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“In so far as the judge accepting the basic structure argument; do you all see that as a victory?”

 

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith

“Well obviously, it’s a huge victory, the fact that it was done in breach of separation of powers and as we’ve just said earlier; the most telling thing is that the order, the S.I. that the minister relies on that the directors of B.T.L. rely on to be there, has been declared null and void so there is no basis upon which they should remain in possession and control of B.T.L.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“I would just add that clearly, I would anticipate that the Government would issue yet another S.I., you would remember that in 2009 they issued two S.I.s and then in 2011 they issued one; it seems more than likely there is going to be one in 2012. You know, at one point you just have to say to yourself that maybe I just don’t know how to do this and in fact it is wrong and they should back off and leave the people with their private property.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“However, that is complicated by the fact that the government by the virtue of the eighth constitution must retain majority control of all public utilities so that is a practical impossibility?”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Well it is not a practical impossibility; what they should do is form their company and carry on their own telecommunications business or buy it at the going rate from people and not forcefully take it because every time they take it, because every time they try it they fail.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“It would be foolery to read into the decision of the judge why he does x, y and z but then if he ruled as it is as you claim, unlawful occupation, why then didn’t he go the other step and say that occupation must then be vacated?”

 

Godfrey Smith

“No, no; that’s a fair point and that adds a good measure of confusion to the judgment which obviously we need time to try to dissect and further analyze.”

 

This afternoon, the British Caribbean Bank issued a press release announcing the ruling. The bank says it is the second time that the courts have ruled that the nationalization is unconstitutional, but that rather than respect the decision of the court, the Government hurriedly passed legislation to re-nationalize the company. The release says, “While the property of the former shareholders and the Bank remains in the Government hands tonight, there is no doubt that the Government is not he lawful owner of Telemedia and of the Bank’s property. British Caribbean Bank calls on the Government to rectify the situation and recognize the legitimate rights of the Bank and former shareholders of Telemedia.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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