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Jul 7, 2023

Francis Fonseca Explains Why Douglas Mendes’ Legal Opinion

In respect of the legal opinion provided by Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes and his law partner on May fourth, on the agreement between Portico and the Government of Belize, Minister Fonseca also chimed in on the differences in perspective.  Mendes’ legal opinion is contained in an eighteen-page document and in it, he says that the agreement was executed by the minister for and on behalf of the Government of Belize.  At the time of signing the agreement, the ministerial portfolios for tourism and ports were not assigned to the minister.  Mendes goes on to say, “according to the instructions recorded in the Advice, the Agreement was not approved by Parliament, Cabinet, the G.O.B. Investment Committee, the then Prime Minister of then Attorney General, nor were any consultations held with Cabinet or the Prime Minister.  We have great difficulty acting on the basis of such assumed instructions”.  In conclusion, Mendes wrote, “we are of the opinion that the foregoing is relevant insofar as the government might be minded to abide by the terms of the agreement.  There is nothing unlawful or unconstitutional about the National Assembly enacting legislation giving effect to the obligations under the agreement to grant concessions.  Further, to the extent that there is any remaining doubt as to whether the minister had authority to bind the government or as to whether the agreement violated the provisions of the Finance and Audit Reform Act or any of its provisions were illegal, there is nothing unlawful or objectionable about the legislature enacting a law which ratifies the agreement and specifies that the agreement is to be given legal force”.  Here’s more from Minister Fonseca.


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Cabinet Minister

“There were competing opinions and different opinions on this matter and so we can only deal with what came to us.  As I said, what came to us was the legal opinion from Mr. Mendes, a distinguished Senior Counsel, Queen’s Counsel, and based on his opinion, legal opinion, the advise was that the government faced the potential for legal liability and, therefore, we had an obligation to look at it.  That was the advice and we did that and very quickly dismissed the agreement.”

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