Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2022. 9:57 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Supreme Court Justice Lisa Shoman has struck out the claim by the owners of Stake Bank Enterprises Limited against the Attorney General, National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC), and Department of the Environment (DOE) for being filed outside of the requisite time.
Stake Bank was seeking judicial review of the decisions of the NEAC to grant approval for an environmental compliance plan for a rival cruise port development owned by Portico Enterprises Limited who along with Waterloo Enterprises Limited are interested parties in the case.
As explained by the junior attorney for Waterloo/Belize Logistics Terminal/Belize Cruise Development Limited Hector Guerra (instructed by Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith): “In its reasoning the court carefully detailed the fact that the rules as they now stand do not permit, do not grant the court the discretion to extend the [14-day] period and so really, it’s a really strict rule but, nonetheless, it’s a rule that’s in application today and that should be complied with.”
Specifically, Guerra pointed out that the argument of William Lindo Jr (instructed by Senior Counsel Glenn Godfrey) that the document was entered into the online system a day before the deadline in August of 2021 was not accepted, because “a document is deemed to be filed [when] a party receives a stamped copy of the document saying it has been filed and it has the date.”
As for the appearances of the interested parties, Guerra explained, “The A.G. filed a claim to strike. Our clients, Waterloo, along with our other clients and Portico also filed an application to strike, but because the government is the substantive defendant in this matter, they were allowed to move their application and the interested parties which included Portico and Waterloo were given permission to buttress the government’s arguments in terms of the strikeout application that was being moved by the government.”
The court’s decision could possibly be appealed, but Guerra said he was not confident that a new claim might be able to be brought which is good for his clients. The strike-out brings the matter to an end, making it not necessary to move on the other part of the application to strike out parts of a related affidavit in the case.
The Government (Attorney General/NEAC/DOE) was represented by Samantha Matute Tucker and Jorge Matus, Crown Counsels, who were awarded costs, while Portico was represented by Andrew Bennett and David Morales.
Bennett and Morales told Channel 5 News that their clients were very much pleased by the decision, as according to Bennett, “…on the ninth of April 2021, the environmental clearance and the environmental compliance plan was executed by our clients. You had that cloud over those two documents because that was the subject matter of this substantive claim. What it means now is that that cloud is now removed and our clients can now continue. They were never impeded, there was never any injunction so worked continued but it just means that the cloud is now removed and we are happy with the judgment.”
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