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Jun 5, 2013

Exploratory activities at the root of injunctions in court

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Following an adjournment this afternoon, Audrey Matura-Shepherd gave an update to the media.  She told News Five that the root of the injunction being challenged by government is the prohibition of oil companies, including Treaty Energy Belize, from carrying out exploratory activities in the wake of Justice Legall’s decision to nullify previously awarded concessions.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, VP, OCEANA Belize

“First of all the case is not concluded; the substantive hearing. But this morning, the first thing the judge did was listen to OCEANA’s application where we were asking for the admission of the expert evidence of Susan Harvey. We did not get that in our favor which is not bad because in the process of arguing against us wanting to bring expert evidence to dispute the content of the letters of both Princess and Treaty, the attorney for the government, Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, got up and said they will no longer rely on those letters as proof of the truth of what is in the letters and rather withdrew their paragraphs seven and eight which basically alluded to those letters. So with that evidence off the table then we don’t really need the expect evidence. However had they insisted that they want to use the content of these letters written by the two oil companies to the Prime Minister then of course we would have insisted that we should get our expert evidence in. So that is first part.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What transpired thereafter in terms of the adjournment to Tuesday?”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Well after that, we went into the substantive matter and the rest of the morning and all afternoon, we’ve been hearing from the attorney for the government who is basically giving their arguments as to why they belief that this injunction should be lifted. The attorney for OCEANA, COLA, and the Coalition has not started to present yet. But the hurdle that the attorney for the government needs to be able to overcome is two-fold. One, they need to prove that they have a substantial prospect of succeeding on appeal and two, they also have to prove that if the injunction is not lifted, there will be irreparable damage that cannot be undone because of the injunction. Of course we will argue against those two positions when we get to address the court on the matter.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What’s the crooks of the argument on OCEANA’s part?”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Well the crooks of the argument is definitely in terms of what we see as irreparable damage. They are saying if there is delay it is irreparable damage. And it is really sad that governments look at damage in a very myopic way because they are only looking at financial; though they did not submit any evidence in terms of finances. We are looking at not only financial. We are looking at the damage that will be created to the environment for failure to follow proper procedures and do the right thing which then leads to financial loss to people who are already benefiting from that resource.”

 

OCEANA’s attorney Godfrey Smith is expected to present arguments next Tuesday when the case is set to resume.

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