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Jul 2, 2020

Sticking to His Guns, No-decision

Dean Barrow

The prime minister’s no-decision view on an oral judgment handed down by former Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin has raised several eyebrows, particularly those in legal circles who argue that the verdict against the Minister of Finance for flouting the Finance and Audit Reform Act is valid despite though it was in oral form.  While precedence has been set in Belize in the case of the Queen versus Henry of 2018, the Prime Minister maintains that since the order was never perfected prior to the retirement of the Chief Justice the matter has become moot.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“In a situation where the order is never perfected, you can’t get into any trouble; you would have been running a risk if you decided not to comply with what was said because you felt the order would never have been perfected.  But, if for whatever reason you wouldn’t comply and the order is never perfected, you’ve gone clear.  How can anybody, look, without the order being perfected there can be no appeal, there can be no scrutiny until an order is perfected a judge can change his mind, you know, as long as he is not functus.  So there is no doubt in my mind that the so-called order that the then Chief Justice Benjamin made which was an injunction not to do the spending before going to the house, remember that was stayed for six months.  I’m not even sure if the six months have passed.  We went back to the house last week and we did a supplementary so even if you want to argue that that would have been covered by the order, it was within the time when the order, by way of the Chief Justice’s own pronouncement, was stayed and therefore we could not be caught.  But now that it is clear that that order can never be perfected because the Chief Justice is functus, I am surprised they didn’t tell you that perhaps the Chief Justice, even now, the ex-Chief Justice can still go and complete the judgment and sign it.”

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