General — 12 September 2014 — by Adele Ramos
CCJ to hear nationalization and Maya land rights appeals in October

BELIZE CITY–The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has set December as the month for hearing the appeals filed by the Ashcroft Alliance and Fortis Energy International (Belize) challenging the nationalization of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and Belize Electricity Limited, respectively.

Case management sessions are scheduled for November in the appeals filed by Dean Boyce, British Caribbean Bank and Fortis, as well as a cross-appeal by the Government of Belize.

Next month, October, the CCJ will also hold case management sessions for the Maya land rights appeal filed by the Toledo Alcaldes Association, the Maya Leaders Alliance and 23 villages of the Toledo District, as well as a cross-appeal by the Government of Belize.

In May, the Court of Appeal handed down what Attorney General Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington described as a “blowout” decision, in which two of three sitting justices upheld the Government’s nationalization of both Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and Belize Electricity Limited (BEL).

At the time, Eamon Courtenay, SC, attorney for British Caribbean Bank and Fortis, had told the media that the CCJ will have to make the final decision in the matter.

President of the Supreme Court, Justice Manuel Sosa, read from the decision of his peer on the bench, Justice Samuel Awich, who ruled that the Government’s nationalization of BTL was valid, effective July 4, 2011. He also dismissed the appeal of Fortis Inc., challenging the Government’s nationalization of BEL that same year.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the Government must pay compensation, which would be equal to the value of the property appropriated as of July 4, 2011.

We asked Courtenay whether it is consequential that the court only ruled the BTL nationalization effective as of 2011, although the Government has had control of the company since 2009.

“It is a remarkable thing,” said Courtenay.

In July, the CCJ granted permission for the parties to appeal. Hearings on the nationalization cases will be held December 10-12, 2014.

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