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Dec 12, 2012

Government tries to end Oceana’s case before it gets underway

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

The Elections and Boundaries Office disqualified eight thousand and forty seven petition signatures that could have triggered a national referendum on the issue of offshore exploration and drilling. That set in motion a Supreme Court case filed by Audrey Marie Bradley, Thomas Greenwood and Oceana in Belize. Bradley, Greenwood and Oceana are seeking judicial review of the decision of the Chief Elections Officer, Election and Boundaries Department and the Governor General of Belize to reject the signatures. That case was side tracked by a motion by the government’s attorney, senior counsel Denys Barrow to have the matter struck out before it even begins. News Five spoke to Audrey Matura Shepherd, Oceana Vice President for Belize about what happened in the courtroom of Justice Michelle Arana this morning.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd, V.P., Oceana Belize

“We had gone to court to ask for judicial review. We won that case; we got permission for judicial review, and subsequent to that, we were to file the actual substantive claim. We filed the substantive claim, but what the government is now saying is that we didn’t file it within time. So it is like a technical matter in which they are trying to see how they can use a time limitation. There is two ways to interpret that. So we were to appear before the court today to hear those arguments. The way the process works is that we submitted our arguments because we got a notice from the government saying the grounds on which they are challenging our case and why they are asking for it to be struck out. So after we’ve filed our submissions of course the government will also file their submissions. The reason we didn’t have full hearing today is because the government did not present their submission or filed it and presented it to the judge until this morning. And rightfully so, she needs time to look at it; to read through the cases. What happens is that both parties get the time to file their arguments so that by the time you appear before the court, the court already knows the issues and the judge may be able to ask you to address certain specific issues directly. So seeing that neither of us know the judge had the submissions, she found it fit to adjourn to next week Thursday at which time the matter should be heard fully.”


Jose Sanchez

“Do you feel there is any strength to that technicality?”


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Well you know, of course our argument is that they are counting the days wrongly because the law is clear as to when the fourteen days start to accumulate. They are saying it is from the moment that the judge says permission granted. We are saying no; it is from the moment when the order is perfected—when you have the written order and it is signed and made official. So that’s one of the arguments the government will be making against us and the judge will be listening and adjudicating on. Our other position is that the law, the civil procedure rules, makes provisions for these matters to be heard and not be struck out simply because of a technicality if they find that there is a technicality. Of course the other side is showing and presenting arguments contrary to that. That’s why the court system is an adversarial one and it is the judge who will not see both our arguments; see what are the case and authorities; read up on it and give a decision.”


Jose Sanchez

“Do you see it as a fear by the other side to try to have the matter struck out?”


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“I just find it amazing. You know we have two cases against the government and I just find it amazing that at every stage, they try to strike out a case. They tried it with the other case in which we are challenging the oil contracts. They always try to find some technicality to stop the case. It is like they don’t want the matters to be argued on the merit.”


Matura Shepherd said referendum case was adjourned until Thursday, December twentieth.

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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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7 Responses for “Government tries to end Oceana’s case before it gets underway”

  1. Joe says:

    drill baby drill, we need the money, just don’t let BP and Halliburton do the drilling.

  2. Belizean says:

    Well lady, it is very obvious that you are just practicing your law here, and that youre wasting the Governments’ time. Please, stop drawing such a spectacle, it stinks too much

  3. Simone says:

    what an idiot lawyer-she knows that all lawyers try every possible tactic to get cases thrown out whether its technical or on the merits-and then appeal to public sympathy-how unprofessional to argue case on TV -whine in court-we dont want to see it-everytime-it is frustrating watching news and see this lawyer or the next whine and complain that things didnt go their way inside-appeal.

  4. Paul says:

    The arguments don’t matter anyway when oceana is fighting to stop offshore oil drilling and not just a referendum. i agree with joe, drill baby drill.

  5. Elgin Martinez says:

    Don’t attack the woman attack the issue.Why can’t we disagree without taking things to a personal level?

  6. Storm says:

    I support smart drilling, meaning with ALL modern precautions and where the contract is 100% TRANSPARENT — no bribes, no secret partners, no shortcuts. AND LASTLY, WHERE THERE IS SOME BENEFIT FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE JEWEL.

    Imagine the destruction our major industry would suffer if one of our offshore wells blows, like BP’s well near Louisiana? Can a small oil company pay the cost to repair the reef , the beaches, the fisheries?

    No, they will just pick up and leave us with a mess we cannot possibly repair. And tourists will move on to the next tropical paradise that isn’t covered with crude oil.


    Do you know whether all of those conditions have been considered and met by GOB? For a quick shilling today, we can lose a pound tomorrow — GOB has a track record of disastrous implementation of plans that “sound good” until you think them through.

  7. Neutrality says:

    @storm……have you honestly ever heard about a drill company that drills, “HONESTY and with UTMOST care and WITH ADEQUATE INSURANCE TO REPAIR IN CASE OF DISASTER?” ……??Maybe Chevron, Exon, BP?? They are some of the largest companies with access to the greatest technology in oil but do your research and find out what they have done to small developing countries in Africa and South America. I’m sure they too were lured with the promise of lucrative royalties that would drive their economy out of poverty AND how they would be able to pay off all their national debt AND how such responsible companies would ensure that their ecosystems are not degraded and toxically polluted in the process (they are sure doing good today)……..Drill baby drill, like there’s no tomorrow…..maybe there IS no tomorrow.

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