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Mar 31, 2017

Arbitration Cases at Standstill

Michael Peyrefitte

A total of four awards handed down by the London Court of International Arbitration for multiple companies hit the Government hard in January, forcing new regulations against any attachment of Belize’s foreign reserves, including proceeds from commercial transactions.  In January, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear further appeals from Government for awards in favour of Belize Social Development Limited in relation to the nationalization of Belize Telemedia Limited.  Likewise, it set aside the case of Newco Limited over a broken contract to manage the Philip Goldson International Airport.  The U.S. Supreme Court also declined to hear appeals on two cases brought separately by Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited. In one, CIHL, formerly BCB Holdings Limited and the Belize Bank Limited, sought enforcement of the UHS award. In the other, CIHL sought enforcement of the Accommodation Agreement over B.T.L. Together the awards are valued at upward of a hundred million Belize dollars, and Government has refused to acknowledge them, except in Newco’s case. Separately there is the matter of GDG Acquisitions LLC, whose case against Government for refusal to honour a rental contract for Intelco-era phones is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. According to Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, there has been no movement in any of these cases but Government continues to be wary.


Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General

“I haven’t heard of any new movements in the U.S. as far as trying to enforce a judgment which our highest court has deemed to be unconstitutional, or just wrong. I am not aware that there has been any move in contravention of the recent laws that we passed to protect the assets of the Government and of the Central Bank. No, I am not aware of any of those in the U.S.  There was never a decision in which the court decided against Belize; the court merely decided that they had jurisdiction to hear the matter, and so far as I know, the matter is now set for hearing. But that has not been concluded yet; that has not been set yet; I’m not even been aware that a date has been set for trial as yet, so we still have to wait to hear the outcome of that case.”

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