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What Does Appeal Court Decision Mean for Portico?

Jun 21, 2023

What Does Appeal Court Decision Mean for Portico?

On June twentieth, the Court of Appeal handed down a decision in favor of Stake Bank Enterprise Limited, in respect of a ruling by Justice Lisa Shoman.  The former Supreme Court judge held that Stake Bank’s challenge to Portico’s environmental clearance was filed outside of the prescribed fourteen-day window.  That claim was brought against the Government of Belize, including the Attorney General, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, and the Department of the Environment.  Subsequently, Waterloo Investment Holdings Limited, Belize Cruise Development Limited, and Belize Logistics Terminal Limited joined on as interested parties.  Waterloo is the parent company for Port of Belize Limited, while the other two companies are affiliated with Portico Enterprises Limited.  In the wake of Tuesday’s decision which effectively breathes new life into Stake Bank’s challenge of Portico’s environmental clearance, is Waterloo withdrawing from the matter?   Viewers would recall that the controlling company was included as an interested party in December 2021, prior to any knowledge of a Definitive Agreement between Portico and the Government of Belize.  But what does this all mean for Portico whose environmental clearance is now the subject of a legal challenge in the High Court?  We begin with an interview with attorney Andrew Bennett, of the law firm of Morales and Company.

Andrew Bennett

Andrew Bennett, Attorney-at-Law

“Yesterday, the Court of Appeal heard the appeal brought by Stake Bank Enterprises Ltd.  It decided in their favor, it upheld their appeal and so what this means is that the matter has now been remitted back to the lower court for determination of the issues.”

Isani Cayetano

“What would the ramifications be in a matter such as this where perhaps it was argued in the first instance on a technicality that the files were submitted in a tardy manner?  But now that they are back before the court and a substantive hearing will be held, what could the possible outcomes be, in respect of your client’s position?”

Andrew Bennett

“Well we have to remember that the substantive issue is the lawfulness of the environmental clearance and the environmental compliance plan.  That becomes the live issue before the court now and, well, it will be determined by the lower court.  In respect of whatever happened with the decision, in terms of Justice Shoman, that has been set aside and so the parties now will have their day in court.”