They have dragged on for many years now, but from December 10-12 in Trinidad and Tobago, there will be a final resolution to the nationalizations of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) and Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) in 2009 and 2011, which are being challenged by their former owners, the BTL Employees Trust and related companies and Fortis Energy International.
Following a closed-door case management conference held by video link between Port of Spain, London, and Belize City, attorney representing the Government entities, Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, summarized what took place.
“We had a case management conference today, in which Mr. Courtenay and I and our respective juniors participated, as well as the lawyers in England for Fortis and for Dean Boyce, and the court gave directions as to how the hearing would be conducted.”
“What is the nature of the cases before the CCJ right now? What is being looked at in this case management conference at this time?”
“There are six consolidated appeals, two of them are from the 2009 acquisition. So those two have been consolidated with three against the 2011 acquisition brought by Boyce, by BCB and by Fortis. And then the sixth one is an appeal by the Government of Belize against the failure of the Court of Appeal to accept that the acquisitions took retrospective effect.”
All is in play, as the Government could both lose the companies and lose the buttressing of the Eighth Constitutional Amendment, if the CCJ finds that Belize cannot say that a public utility company cannot be vested in the Government for the public’s interest.
Alternatively, they could find either or both of the nationalizations proper, and demand compensation to the affected parties.
Denys Barrow told us that the court prefers a central location to hear its cases, and logistical matters prevent them for now from coming to Belize.
The case will be heard in Port-of-Spain and a decision is not expected right away.