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May 27, 2010

Submissions made regarding government takeover of Telemedia

godfrey smith

Meanwhile in the Supreme Court, Justice Oswell Legall heard submissions regarding another case involving the nationalization of Belize Telemedia. The British Caribbean Bank and former B.T.L. CEO, Dean Boyce are challenging government’s take over and compulsory acquisition of Telemedia.  The arguments were based on several grounds, chief among which was the issue of proportionality.  Attorneys for British Caribbean Bank, Eamon Courtenay and Godfrey Smith for Dean Boyce explained the intricacies of the case.

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for British Caribbean Bank

“One of the things that people are not aware of is that when government nationalised Telemedia, British Caribbean Bank had lent substantial funds to Telemedia and as is always, Telemedia would give a mortgage of its property to secure the money that had been lent to it. The government acquired that debenture, the mortgage from British Caribbean Bank. Now British Caribbean Bank has come to court to say this is unconstitutional. Government has said that it has taken the shares in Telemedia, it has taken control of Telemedia in order to have stability and to have lower rates in order to have reliable services. The debenture of the bank has nothing to do with those objectives and therefore it’s unconstitutional to take the bank’s property. We have been arguing, saying that that is unconstitutional. The government has no, it was a legitimate thing to do and the matter is now before Justice Legall for his decision.”

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Dean Boyce

“The statutory instruments signed by the Minister with responsibility for Telecommunications were unconstitutional and that the taking of the shares of Dean Boyce in Telemedia were unconstitutional and void. The issue of proportionality is very important and very contentious because we, on behalf of the claimants who are saying the taking of Telemedia was unconstitutional, is arguing that there is a principle of proportionality, which means that the court must embark on an exercise to balance the right of a private person to enjoy his fundamental rights and freedoms. That must be balanced against the public interest. So what we were inviting the court to do is to question whether the taking of the property in the way it was done, ninety-four percent of the shares in Telemedia, whether that was necessary to achieve the so called public purposes of introducing stability, reliability, affordability and improvement in telecommunications in Belize. In fact, our argument is that when the court looked at the evidence—we invited the court to look at the evidence to see that immediately prior to the taking of Telemedia the industry was stable, the services were reliable, the prices were affordable and much investment had gone in. There was a plethora of evidence to that effect, none of which was disputed or contradicted by the government. And so we have argued that clearly there was a big chasm, a yawning chasm, a big divide between the so-called public purpose because really and truly if a government wants to take something from someone, someone’s private property, it can write this is a public purpose; we want to do this for the public purpose. When that is challenged, however, by the victim or victims of the taking, the court then has to look at the evidence to see whether all that the prime minister said, for instance in this case in the House of Representatives about Belizeanization and about bringing an end to litigation and so on, whether that matched and whether there was a rational connection between those things and the stated paper public purposes.”

A ruling is expected on July twenty-eighth.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Submissions made regarding government takeover of Telemedia”

  1. Bulba Martinez says:

    If unu think dat dis only could happen eena Communist Countrys, watch out Belize, here we come. Dis da di flip side ah (Acquisition) or taking away some POOR PEOPLE land whe can’t fight fi get it back. “GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD”, ih seh, ‘BY THEIR FRUITS YE SHALL KNOW DEM”. Belizeans, di phone rates mi suppose to goh down remember?. This is for Student, please understand that no-one is above the law and GOB is not exempted from criminal liability, ok!!!.

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