BELIZE-COURT- CCJ rules against Belize Transport board

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jul. 26, CMC – The Trinidad based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Wednesday delivered judgement in a matter between a transport operator against the Transport Board of Belize and other respondents.
In a statement on Wednesday, the regional court allowed Froylan Gilharry Sr. the appeal, and declared that the Transport Board did not properly consider the renewal of Gilharry’s application and frustrated his legitimate expectation to operate his business.
The report states that Gilharry’s company – Gilharry’s Bus Line, had been operating buses along the northern route in the country for almost 40 years.
In 2008, the authorities sought to make policy changes in the transportation system which some bus operators vigourously objected to and they then sought an injunction in the courts against the Transport Board .
The injunction was granted.
As a result, the Board stopped granting new permits or renewing old ones.
When the injunction was lifted in 2011, the Minister of Transport and the Transport Board moved to regularise the transportation system, which had been “lawless” for more than two years.
They proposed changes and staged consultations with the operators in order to settle the dispute.
The Board announced that it would observe the new policy and schedules, and granted temporary road service permits for three months to all bus operators in the north who had applied for, and paid, the requisite fees.
Gilharry was offered new permits but fewer and far less lucrative ones than he used to have – in addition – his old permits were not renewed.
He decided not to pay for the new permits and did not adhere to the revised schedules that were put in place.
Choosing instead to operate his old routes, he was stopped by the police and the case proceeded to court.
Both the Belize’s Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal rejected Gilharry’s assertion that the Transport Board acted beyond its powers, did not exercise its licensing powers properly or fully consider the renewal application of the applicant and frustrated his legitimate expectation to continue to operate his business on the same footing as before.
Gilharry then asked the CCJ, Belize’s highest court, to consider the matter.
The CCJ found that there was nothing illegal with the Board approving the proposed new schedules or bus routes which the bus operators, excepting Gilharry, worked out amongst themselves as the Board was entitled to consider the proposals and if it agreed with them, to accordingly approve them.
The Court found that Gilharry had failed to show that the Board had not acted in accordance with its statutory powers and duties.
The CCJ, however, strongly disagreed with the courts that Gilharry was not entitled to a fair procedure as he had been operating illegally which the Court noted he could not be blamed for. The CCJ found that Gilharry had a legitimate expectation which was not honoured by the Board. “Although the Board might have been justified to some extent in taking that course, it should not have proceeded without giving Mr Gilharry a proper opportunity to express his objections and concerns. The law and fairness required this, also because he appeared to be greatly affected by the new policy,” the release noted.
However, the CCJ said that although Gilharry had suffered loss as a result of the actions of the Board, there was insufficient evidence before it to assess his damages as he had failed to properly quantify or mitigate his losses.
In addition to allowing the appeal and making the relevant declarations, the Court also ordered the Transport Board to pay Gilharry’s costs before the CCJ and other courts which includes an immediate payment of BZ$40,000 (US$19,982)
All other applications were dismissed.

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