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Jun 11, 2012

Supreme Court Rules against Nationalization

Denys Barrow

Since about 2003 the management of Belize Telemedia Limited has changed at least five times: from an Ashcroft Board to Prosser to a Dean Boyce board, to the Government of Belize, back to the Boyce board for a few hours and then back to the G.O.B. This morning anticipation hung in the air of Justice Oswell Legall’s tiny courtroom as he delivered a massive eighty-page judgment on G.O.B.’s second nationalization of B.T.L. in July of 2011. The judgment went strongly against the G.O.B., declaring that the Order under which B.T.L. was acquired was null and void because Legall says, “there was no legal basis, no statutory authority that empowered the Minister to make that Order…” In relation to the Eight Amendment, formerly known as the Ninth Amendment, Justice Legall ruled that parts of it were unconstitutional, specifically that portion that took away Dean Boyce and the B.T.L. Employees Trust’s right of access to the court to determine whether their shares were really taken for a public purpose. But having ruled that the G.O.B.’s second attempt to nationalize B.T.L. was unconstitutional, the Judge in a conclusion that left lawyers on both sides scratching their heads, concluded that he could not order a surrender of B.T.L. because of a provision in the constitution. But lawyers for both Dean Boyce and the British Caribbean Bank are saying that if the judge ruled that the second nationalization was unlawful in July of 2011 then there is nothing for the G.O.B. to maintain majority ownership of. A huge casualty for the government has been the ruling that those parts of the Eighth Amendment that attracted huge public controversy are unconstitutional null and void.  The G.O.B. now lacks the super-majority in the house so it cannot reintroduce those controversial amendments. Following the judgment, attorney for the government, Denys Barrow, gave his take on the ruling.

 

Jules Vasquez, 7 News

“Sir, what is the upshot of what we heard just now in court; it was highly technical but at the end of it, my notes say that the claims that  the GOB shall not have control are dismissed; damages and injunctions are dismissed; the claimants shall meet and enter into discussions about compensations. Is this a win for the Government of Belize?”

 

Denys Barrow, Attorney for Government

“This is hugely a win for the Government, but I need to get clear that the detailed basis of the win obviously the judge gave an extremely close and incisive analysis of what was before him. Until one sits down and reads what he has written, you cannot really state exactly the process by which he arrived at the conclusions that he made but as you said, the short it is that the government remains the owners of the property that it acquired; so the government has won.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“He found that sections of the Eight Amendment are contrary to the separation of powers and the basic structure of the constitution; what significance does that have, not having those particular sections 221498 in front of you?”

 

Denys Barrow

“The significance is that the judge has gone with what has been established as a part of Belizean jurisprudence by Chief Justice Conteh and I think it was Mr. Eamon Courtney who I did that piece of advocacy that the Indian Doctrine, which says that certain things cannot be done to the Constitution, the judge has agreed that certain things cannot be done in relation to the Constitution even though the Constitution is the supreme law. As you will appreciate this is a decision which has been made at first insistence by the Chief Justice and now again by His Lordship as first instance and one imagines, that there will be an appeal by the other side to this entire decision and if there is an appeal, I imagine that the government will have great interest in taking before the Court of Appeal, this question that the Indian basic structure doctrine which does not exist in any other Commonwealth country that I know of can hold an existence in Belize.”

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8 Responses for “Supreme Court Rules against Nationalization”

  1. it's just that simple says:

    Today’s headline “changed at least five times”
    The looser is: Belize.
    The winner is?

    back to murder stories at the Jewel ….

  2. RawBelizean says:

    Comments of Mr. Deny’s Barrow are very insuslting to the Mestizo “Indian” community. Just a clear indication of his racism.

  3. Vuk says:

    How is his comment “racist” and insulting to Mestizos and the indigenous? When he used the word “indian” in this context, he was specifically referring to chief justice Conteh’s ruling on land rights and its relationship to the current ruling. That’s not a “clear indication” of whatever racist tendencies he may have.

  4. Demi God says:

    @RawBelizean, How was he insulting the Indian community? You’re a dumb @$$…he was referring to an Indian Constitution Case! Conteh relied on a case from India, which established that the Constitution cannot be altered! Dumb $#!%!

  5. A.V.Dicey says:

    @ RawBelizean

    Denys is talking about the basic structure ‘doctrine’ regarding constitutions which the Indian Supreme Court (The Supreme Court of India) applied in a an Indian case called Kasevandera or something like that. He is not referring to the Maya or Mestizo Indians. The dotrine developed by that Indian Court is; to put it kindly, questionable because it ignores a simple legal rule of constitutional supremacy and separation of powers. That is why that Indian case has never been followed in other Commonwealth coutries or even mentioned in legal journals as a well recieved development of Constituional Law.
    It is believed that the judges of the Indian court in that case decided to be legal realists. Legal realists are put simply; jurists who believe the law is what the judges want it to be on a given day and not what the legislators proclaim to be law when they enact statute or ammend constitutions. The Indian judges took it upon themselves to be the ones ‘suitable’ to decide what a consitution can and cannot contain after an ammendment. It was a clear flouting of democratic legitimacy and separation of powers which threw constitutional supremacy into the legal dustbin where India is concerned.
    Whether I agree or disagree with the former owners of BTL is another issue and I will not get into that. No one would want their profitable business nationalized even if they are to be paid compensation. Therefore it is futile for me to argue about who should own BTL. But I do believe that the Barry Bowen case which the former BTL owners relied upon in this nationalization case will be at the most overruled, and at the least; any appeal might question whether it was properly decided if the appellate courts dispose of the nationalization case without having to rely on the Barry Bowen case.
    This BTL nationalization case is an interesting case for those of us watching from the sidelines and anxiously waiting to read the judgments of the appellate courts when the case will be appealed. (It is expected that this one will go down to the wire and will be appealed all the way)

  6. MGR says:

    Denys Barrow AND DEAN BARROW ARE smoking grass with dog droppings. Dean Barrow broke the law and is causing Belizeans millions of dollars in court and lost in investor confidence – yet Denys Barrow sees this as a victory. Denys Barrow has no moral and ethical backbone (he is a spineless nematode). The rest of Belize does not feel good about this UDP incompetent num-skull dean barrow government making us look bad internationally. It’s time to do the right thing Dean Barrow – if you have an iota of sense.

  7. Rod says:

    What’s his name barrow I told you all that they are all prejudice the ones in gov. Now trying to put down we poo Indians well at least we no corrupt at lease we no the cause hundreds of murders hope unu the sleep good hope all the spirits the visit unu .

  8. Jose Perdomo says:

    Treat ignorance with intelligence. As soon as the word indian is sounded, the ignorant, in the sence of lack of education on a particular issue, instantly translates the subject matter to indigenous. Think Indian as in East Indian and indian as indigenous, i.e. Maya, Cherokee, Aztec, Puma, Navajo, et al. Additionally, some take offence or pretend to take offence to claim unfounded racisim to their advantage. Just like the folks behind the zink fence.

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