Belize company to challenge new pieces of legislation in court

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BELMOPAN, Belize, Feb 3, CMC – Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited (CIHL) says it will challenge ion court new anti-arbitration laws passed by the Belize Parliament, deeming the measures to be unconstitutional.
CIHL, previously known as BCB Holdings, in a statement said that the Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act and the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act were clearly an attempt to intimidate and restrain it from pursuing its rights in judicial proceedings which it claims the Belize government has lost.
It said similar amendments to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act in 2010 were similarly challenged and substantially overturned by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in 2014.
The Belize government said earlier this month that it would not honour a United States court ruling that declined to hear petitions for review of two judgments originally handed down by London Court of International Arbitration granting millions of dollars to at least two companies operating here.
“The Office of the Prime Minister makes clear that while the US courts have upheld the awards, those courts have no authority to overrule the CCJ (Caribbean Court of Justice) “and that the companies involved “can never collect on those awards in Belize”.
In January, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the petitions for review of two judgments against the Bermuda government, one in favour of Belize Social Development Limited (BSDL) and the other in favour of Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited, and the Belize Bank Limited.
A third, separate judgment for another company, NEWCO Limited, was also not heard.
BSDL had sought enforcement of a London Court of International Arbitration award in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. in November, 2009. That court granted enforcement of the award in a judgment dated February, 2014 and that judgment was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in July, 2015.
The main opposition People’s United Party (PUP) has criticized the government over its move not to honour the arbitration award.
But in a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister it is “astounded” by the statement made by the PUP on the denial by the United States Supreme Court of the Government of Belize’s petition for a review of lower court judgments in three cases.
In its statement, CIHL said that the settlement of the nationalization of a company here came about after an unnecessary seven-year delay with substantial costs on all sides.
On Monday, following the passage of the legislation, Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte reviewed the present situation and Government’s options should there be any attempt to attach Belizean assets.
“There cannot be any criminal sanctions for challenging the law itself; if one wants to make a constitutional application to say that the laws we ratified here …are unconstitutional, then the court would decide that.
“If you don’t make that challenge, but you attempt to do what the acts criminalize, then you will have to suffer the penalties that the acts articulate in them,” he said.

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