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January 9, 2015

Supreme Court green lights Writ of Mandamus application

Belize Supreme Court Building (Archive photo)

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015. 2:07 pm CST.

supreme_court_bFriday, January 9, 2015. AARON HUMES Reporting: Supreme Court Justice Shona Griffith this morning agreed to grant permission for leave to apply for judicial review in respect to a Writ of Mandamus in favour of Lucilio Teck against the Sugar Industry Control Board.

Justice Griffith indicated at the very start of proceedings that she was inclined to do this because she felt the case has sufficient merit to move forward.

Rodwell Williams

Rodwell Williams

However there was one hurdle to overcome in the form of an objection raised by SICB attorney, Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams.

According to Williams the claim as filed by attorneys for Teck, Audrey Matura Shepherd and Anthony Sylvestre, was irretrievably flawed as the claim included substantive relief, particularly declarations that could not be granted at this preliminary stage.

He asked that the matter be struck out as it was impossible to cure the alleged defects within the application which had been presented on an urgent fixed-date claim form filed under the Civil Procedure Rules of the Court.

Anthony Sylvestre (Legal Adviser, PUP)

Anthony Sylvestre
(Legal Adviser, PUP)

Michael Young

Michael Young (Senior Counsel)

There followed a back and forth between Williams, Sylvestre, attorney for interested party (BSI/ASR) Michael Young and attorney representing interested party (BSCFA) Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay.

But in the end Justice Griffith said she was satisfied that while not on the exact form prescribed in law, the application was substantively grounded and could proceed as presented.

Eamon Courtenay (Senior Counsel)

Eamon Courtenay
(Senior Counsel)

The substantive hearing on the claim is set for February 23, which is six weeks from today.

However according to Matura Shepherd, they will endeavour to file the formal suit of the claim immediately and proceed to fast-track the case given the urgency of the circumstances.

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Speaking afterwards with reporters, Matura Shepherd noted that she expected government authorities and their ally BSI to do as much as they can to frustrate and delay the process of the hearing.

While she cannot control that she said, she fulfilled her job on behalf of Mr. Teck to provide a legal forum in which to challenge both the Commercial Agreement which remains unsigned and the apparent decision of the government to refuse to compel BSI/ASR and the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association to settle on a date for the start of the much delayed 2014-2015 crop season.

She indicated that government has a vested interest as part owner of BSI and as controller of the board in determining how and when to proceed and maintained that for its own selfish purposes the government has been misleading and bullying cane farmers into believing that they have no other choice than to sign the agreement now so that the crop can proceed.

Ezequiel Cansino

Ezequiel Cansino (BSCFA)

Alfredo Ortega (Vice Chair., BSCFA)

Alfredo Ortega
(Vice Chair., BSCFA)

Leaders of the Cane Farmers Association Alfredo Ortega and Ezekiel Cansino hold deferring views as to the worth of this process and the procedures moving forward.

Cansino said he still holds that the agreement should be signed even against the wishes of his fellow cane farmers.

According to Cansino, the delay in hearing offers ample time for farmers inclined to signing the agreement to break away from the Association in order to do so.

According to Cansino, who heads the San Estevan branch of the Association, his branch members have indicated a willingness to follow this path.

However, if it is at all possible he would want the full Association to proceed together.

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

Ortega meanwhile says that all of this could have been avoided if the government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow was willing to sit down with all off the Association in order to hear their concerns as farmers believe that with his comments yesterday he has sided with BSI/ASR and against them.

He said that rather than attempting to call out individual leaders such as Ortega as being hindrances, the government must act on behalf of the farmers he claims to support .

The Association is asking only for what they believe is rightfully due them.


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