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Aug 24, 2012

Oceana’s wave of success, another courtroom win

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

A breakthrough decision in a claim brought before the Supreme Court, whereby Oceana is challenging the validity of six oil concessions granted by the Government of Belize in 2007, was handed down in the chamber of Justice Oswell Legall this morning.  The ruling went in favor of Oceana and it is the organization’s second legal victory against the government in its pursuit to argue the legitimacy of contracts awarded to Tropical Energy, Island Oil Belize, Princess Petroleum, PetroBelize Company, Sol Oil Belize and Providence Energy Belize Limited.  On June seventh, an application to have COLA, as well as the Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, join the case as interested parties, was granted despite objection from government’s attorneys.  The consortium of environmental organizations charge that the companies that were given oil concessions do not meet the requirements of the Petroleum Act, and as such their contracts should be canceled.  While they have won phase two of what is expected to be a long legal battle, Oceana’s Vice President, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, told the media today that the victory precedes their substantial challenge.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Vice President, Oceana

“I think this morning’s ruling is a historic ruling and it is important for our democracy and justice.  I think what was most important about the ruling is that once and for all we’ve answered the question of whether or not the decision of Gilharry, the principle stated in that case, that the Public Authorities Act and by extension the Limitations Act which is saying that you can put a limit on claims being brought against the government in terms of time.  This case now says conclusively that that decision in Gilharry applies to not only judicial review [proceedings] but to all administrative law.  And just so that people know, administrative law is any case where you bring an action against the state where you, a citizen or a group, and it is a way that democracies works because they want to know that no government could act highhanded and do whatever they want without accounting to the people.  So when we told the people during the constitutional consultations that the judiciary was critical to keeping a balance in democracy this is what we mean.  This is it in action.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What does the ruling mean at this point for Oceana?”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Well for Oceana, the Coalition [to Save Our Natural Heritage] and COLA it means that now we will be able to discuss the merits of our case in the judicial system and have a ruling.  Not because we’ve won this stage it means that we will win the other stage.  There are so many legal arguments, so many things that will come out.  But of course we are going to court because we are optimistic.  We’re being advised by some of the best legal experts locally and abroad that there is a viable case here.  And of course, we will leave it to the court system and like I’ve always said, whenever there is a decision that we don’t think is fitting the system allows you to appeal and so we are very optimistic moving forward.  So it is a victory, a second round two because as you would recall they had even opposed the joiner of COLA and the Coalition and we won that round.”

 

The Government has given immediate notice that on Monday it intends to file an application asking the court to strike-out the affidavit evidence of Bob Danenburg, a petroleum expert who is slated to give evidence on behalf of the claimants. That will be dealt with on September twelfth but Oceana is also expected to appear in the Supreme Court on September twenty-fifth to seek judicial review of thousands of signatures that were disqualified during an aborted referendum exercise on offshore drilling earlier this year.

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2 Responses for “Oceana’s wave of success, another courtroom win”

  1. Storm says:

    Oceana us doing important work for the people here, forcing some light to be shined on crooked backroom government deals.

    Carry on, Oceana!

    Next we need to have laws and a group of “Untouchables”[from the Sean Connery movie] in law enforcement to get the evidence of politicians and officials who are bought and paid for, and put them in Kolbe, along with the crooked businessmen who bribe them. That goes for every industry, but the oil concessions can be a good place to begin finding conflicts of interests, kickbacks, and other theft.

  2. Belizean says:

    Lets do off shore drilling. Its a good thing man. This lady has no clue about that. Just reading and “studying” off of the internet is NOTHING! She just wants a lot a lot a lot of attention. I have seen this from the beginning she started crying

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