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Oct 1, 2015

Bar Association Applies to CCJ for Disclosure of B.E.L./B.T.L. Settlements

The government of Belize has settled with both Fortis and the Ashcroft Group in the arbitrary nationalizations of B.E.L. and B.T.L.  But in this case that is not the end of that. In what to our knowledge is an unprecedented scenario, the Bar Association on Wednesday night passed a resolution to apply to the CCJ to disclose the decisions notwithstanding that settlement by the parties. The peripheral documents are written in typical legalese, but in a nutshell, the Bar Association is applying to be entered as an interested party in the consolidated appeals – that is, the applications by Fortis and by the Ashcroft Group. The decisions of the CCJ—stayed by the hasty, recent and very costly settlements—hinged primarily on the larger issue of the much debated Eighth Amendment, which allows the super majority in the House to amend the Constitution. Any decision by the CCJ, then, would speak to the validity of the Eighth Amendment and the related Acquisition Act under that amendment. The Bar explains that, “the Association is aware that determination of the question of the validity of the Acquisition Acts is required to determine where legal title to the acquired property now resides.” The resolution, which we are told passed, despite serious opposition by attorney Denys Barrow, seeks to “secure in the public interest decisions from the Caribbean Court of Justice on the declarations sought in the appeal challenging the validity of the Eighth in particular and the Acquisition Acts.” As we said, the language is complicated, but the move is unprecedented and very significant, even as G.O.B. attempts to throw the settlements over its shoulder and soldier on to general elections. There is no word yet as to timeline for the application to the CCJ or an anticipated response. We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

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