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Nov 1, 2013

Court of Appeal rule in favour of Dunkeld International Investments

Eamon Courtenay

The Court of Appeal handed down a number of decisions today. This afternoon, it ruled in favour of Dunkeld International Investments Limited, one of the beneficiaries of the Telemedia shares that were acquired by the Government in 2009. The Government had sued Dunkeld and obtained an injunction from the Supreme Court preventing Dunkeld from proceeding with arbitration abroad. The injunction was granted by Justice Samuel Awich who was then acting Chief Justice and who is now a justice of the Court of Appeal. Today’s decision was written by Justice Morrison of the Court of Appeal, and it lifted the injunction meaning that Dunkeld can pursue arbitration abroad.  The Court of Appeal also held that Dunkeld was not in contempt of the injunction order that was granted by the Supreme Court. It’s a complex case as explained by Attorney Eamon Courtenay, on behalf of Dunkeld.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Dunkeld

“The Court of Appeal Decision arose from an appeal by Dunkeld which is a company that is a holding company for the former shareholders of Belize Telemedia and the Supreme Court, Mister Justice Awich found that Dunkeld was in contempt of court. And the reason he held that is because he had issued an injunction restraining Dunkeld from going to international arbitration. And he had restrained Dunkeld from going to a specific arbitration. And Dunkeld did not proceed with that arbitration; it started another one. And he held that starting a second arbitration was a contempt of his first order and he also held that there was jurisdiction over Dunkeld at the Supreme Court of Belize. Dunkeld is not a Belizean company; does not carry business in Belize. And so we had submitted to the court first of all that Dunkeld was not in contempt. We suggested that Dunkeld was not a Belizean company and therefore was not subjected to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and we had argued that because the government had agreed under the treaty that they can settle disputes with investors by way of arbitration, that the matter should be allowed to continue to arbitration. Mister Justice Awich ruled against all of that and we appealed all of those decisions and the Court of Appeal Decision today handed down by the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of Dunkeld. The court held that there was no contempt, the court held that there was no jurisdiction over Dunkeld and the court held that this matter should proceed to arbitration.”

 

The arbitration in question is regarding Dunkeld claiming compensation for the acquisition of shares by the government of Belize as a consequence of the nationalization of Belize Telemedia.

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