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Cabinet delays proposal to limit time for delivery of judgments in upper courts

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Posted: Wednesday, December 2, 2020. 9:19 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Cabinet has decided that proposals to amend the relevant legislation to impose time limits for the delivery of judgments in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal will not be implemented immediately.

The proposals were made by Attorney General Magali Marin-Young, Senior Counsel, after consulting the President of the Court of Appeal Sir Manuel Sosa, the Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana and the Belize Bar Association.

Former Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin was, before his retirement in March, the subject of much opprobrium for failing to deliver dozens of outstanding judgments before he left the Bench. One such judgment, relied on by the People’s United Party in Opposition in January, was that the then-Government consider amending the Constitution, among other things, to properly authorize supplementary budget allocations after finding that billions of dollars authorized by such legislation over a decade were unlawfully spent and not properly accounted for.

Then-Prime Minister Dean Barrow considered the judgment of no effect as it was not reduced to writing before the Chief Justice demitted office.

Cabinet has agreed to approve an increase in the allocation for the Judiciary in next year’s budget. It currently runs to between nine and ten million dollars.

Also, Cabinet discussed important amendments to the Contractor General Act including proposals to introduce an independent Public Contracts Commission to review and approve the award of public contracts and to work along with the Contractor General to investigate any suspicious public contracts. 

 

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