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Nov 24, 2009

B.E.L. asks court to recuse Justice Denys Barrow

Story PictureThere have been many unusual developments in the judiciary lately, including a public war of words between the Attorney General and the Chief Justice. Today, News Five has learnt of an application being made by the Belize Electricity Limited seeking leave to rehear an oral ruling by the Court of Appeal given on October twenty-seventh before a reconstituted panel of judges, which would not include Justice Denys Barrow. B.E.L. is also requesting the court to hear the application before a written judgment is handed down. Justice Barrow sat as a justice of the Court of Appeal along with Justices Mottley and Morrison in the case between B.E.L. and the Public Utilities Commission in which B.E.L.’s appeal was over the jurisdiction of the P.U.C. B.E.L. wants the matter reheard because Justice Barrow’s son Kimano is a Commissioner on the PUC in whose favour the Court of Appeal ruled. Kimano was appointed commissioner by his uncle PM Dean Barrow, who is the brother of Justice Barrow. B.E.L. also cites that it appears from the website of the Barrow and Company law firm that Justice Barrow has an involvement with the law firm which in turn has an ongoing client relationship with P.U.C. According to the court papers, the links between Justice Barrow and his son Kimano give rise to a “reasonable apprehension or suspicion that Justice Barrow lacked impartiality” when the ruling was made. Affidavits have been submitted from B.E.L. C.E.O. Lynn Young and from Rene Blanco, B.E.L.’s vice president and Chief Financial Officer. Both express concern over the presence of Justice Barrow. Blanco in his affidavit also states that Justice Barrow was dominating the proceedings with questions and statements that appeared to be extremely opposed to B.E.L. and strongly in support of an unfettered authority by the government. Attorney for B.E.L., Anthony Sylvestre, did not wish to comment on the application but we do note that in his letter to the registrar of the court of Appeal, B.E.L. is also filing an application seeking conditional leave to appeal to the Privy Council if leave is not granted. This was Justice Barrow’s first sitting as justice of the court of appeal.

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