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Jun 19, 2023

Waterloo Threatens Lawsuit if G.O.B. Doesn’t Divulge Details of Definitive Agreement

The controversial Definitive Agreement between the Government of Belize and Portico Enterprises was trashed by Prime Minister John Briceño in the House of Representatives on Friday.  On that same day Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith wrote to PM Briceño, essentially putting him on notice that legal action will be taken if the government does not provide the details of that famous Definitive Agreement. In Smith’s letter, he mentions that his client has made several attempts to get a copy of the signed agreement between the government and Portico Enterprises Limited under the Freedom of Information Act. Smith writes, “Prime Minister, I am obliged to point out that this adamant refusal by your government’s relevant officials to respond to our Client’s requests for information under the Act highlights the unfair treatment our Client is being subjected to by the Government of Belize and will be relied upon as a ground in support of our Client’s subsidiary companies’ claim under the UK BIT Treaty of 1982. We draw your attention to section 21 of the Act which provides that it is an offence against discipline for a public officer to ignore a request under the Act without cause and therefore renew our request that the appropriate disciplinary measures be taken against those officers who have failed to address our Client’s requests,”. Smith’s letter goes on to warn the PM that if he doesn’t ensure that the relevant officials respond to their requests made under the Act, or to cause disciplinary action to be brought against the public officer who refuses, that he, Smith, is instructed to seek an order of mandamus from the Supreme Court, compelling the Prime Minister to cause that public officer to be disciplined under the Act. The letter, Smith further states, is to be considered a pre-action warning that legal action will be taken against him if he does nothing about it. Attached to the letter is an agenda with all the previous times when they have asked for the information, dating back to December of last year.


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