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Sep 19, 2019

Who Will Represent Belize at the Hague?

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington gave a brief update on developments in respect of Belize proceeding to the International Court of Justice to resolve the territorial dispute with Guatemala.  According to Elrington, several law firms are being asked to tender a bid for the contract to represent Belize at the World Court.  While the legal services of prestigious European law firm Fresh Fields had been initially retained, the cost of representing Belize is proving to be steep.  Prime Minister Barrow told the media today that ambassadors Assad Shoman and Alexis Rosado are presently in London conducting interviews with four prospective law firms, including Fresh Fields.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“What we determined was that it’s costing, as you would imagine, a great, great deal of money.  We’ve been operating on the basis of paying for work done.  Now that the matter is referred to the court we know there is going to be litigation and that question arises of entering into an agreement as to charges, as to how fees will be calculated and as to how we will pay.  I just saw a ranking by the Financial Times of European law firms and they had Fresh Fields at the top.  So let me be clear that there is no dissatisfaction with the level of representation by Fresh Fields at all, but we thought that for purposes of transparency, now that you’re getting to the point where you have to pull the trigger on this huge expense.  The Belizean people deserve to know that we invited a number of law firms to, as it were, tender for the contract, the retainer to represent Belize at the I.C.J.   So Fresh Fields have submitted a bid, but so have other firms.  We didn’t just put it out there.  Remember, government and the opposition are trying to collaborate on this.  There were suggestions from Eamon Courtenay and suggestions from other people and so a select number of law firms was invited to bid for the contract and that is where we are now.”


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