The battle over ownership and control of the Channel 5 TV Station is going to Caribbean Court of Justice. That’s what the attorney for the current
government controlled BTL asked the Court of Appeal today to allow.
Last year in November, attorneys for the Aschroft Alliance and BTL went before the judges of the Court of Appeal. BTL attorney Michael Young argued
before the court that the action by the former directors of the company – before it was nationalised – did the telecommunications company a serious
financial injury when they divested Channel 5 as an asset and spun its ownership into a completely separate entity. He submitted that 10 million
dollars of revenues from BTL was lost when both companies were separated, and that those former directors ought to be personally liable for that money.
The Supreme Court agreed with him, but at the Court of Appeal, the panel accepted the arguments of Eamon Courtenay, the attorney for the former
Directors. His position was that they were protected from any such liability by an indemnity. The Court of Appeal Agreed with them, but the current
Management of BTL is refusing to accept that as a final decision.
Michael Young made an application today to the Court of Appeal to be granted leave to appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice. Outside of court, we
asked him why:
Michael Young - Attorney for BTL
"The court of appeal made it's judgement on the basis that there was a deed of indemnity and also there was a clause of indemnity in the articles of
association that really destroyed the cause of action as against the directors. The wrongs that we say were done to the company, whilst the company was
under the control of the Ashcroft group. So fundamentally the court of appeal upheld their position that the acts were protected by the deed of
indemnity. And we are challenging the decision of the court of appeal - which of course we treat nonetheless with respect; but we differ and are going
to the CCJ to say that, these wrongs were done to the company and even if the deed of indemnity is a shield in relations to those acts, it does not
extinguish the wrong and does not make clean what was not clean."
"Are you and your clients surprised that the government has decided to take this to the final court?"
Eamon Courtenay - Attorney for Former Executive Members
"Well it's difficult to respond to that Daniel because quite frankly the Belize Telemedia is entitled to carry the matter further. They have chosen to
do that. Certainly my clients had hoped that this would have been the end of the road because they enjoyed the benefits of an indemnity in the articles
of the company and therefore it is difficult to understand how it is that Telemedia expects to carry this forward, hope to get a judgement and then
only to be met with an indemnity that required the company to indemnify my clients. But they want to go to the CCJ and so we are of course forced to go
"There are those who believe that you've already been unsuccessful convincing a high court of your case and that going to the CCJ maybe just a very
expensive, futile attempt - a second attempt?"
"Well the first thing is that your statement is wrong because you say that - we have not convinced the high court. In fact we did convince the supreme
court. The supreme court made a decision that the claims were well founded and should proceed. Their appeal to the court of appeal, which disagreed
with the supreme court and we in turn disagree with the court of appeal - which we are entitled to. And this cannot be; if anyone wants to think of it
- a waste of time. When you're talking about 10 million dollars coming out of the assets and the treasury so to speak of BTL - which has really given
rise to Channel 5 and then that just goes? Without really any remedy to the company which was injured? As I say, we respect the court of appeal but we
think that decision was wrong.”
The attorneys from both sides have to file certain court documents as a formality to get the application process completed, but in principle, the Court
has granted that leave.