Airport contractor seeks to enforce US$4.4m arbitration award against Belize government
By Tricia N Henry
Caribbean Net News Staff Reporter

MIAMI, USA: The Belize government has been slapped with a lawsuit for wrongful termination by offshore company, NEWCO Ltd, following alleged instructions by the government to terminate a concession agreement to expand and improve the Phillip SW Goldson International Airport in Belize City.

Financial newsletter OffshoreAlert reported that NEWCO Ltd.,=2 0which describes itself as a Belize-domiciled firm, has claimed that the Government of Belize (GoB) “terminated the Concession Agreement on October 27, 2003 – 11 months after its inception, without legitimate cause and in violation of the express terms of that Concession Agreement”.

According to the complaint filed by NEWCO, “On November 27, 2002, NEWCO, the GoB and Belize Airports Authority entered into the Concession Agreement, which envisioned substantial improvement and expansion of the Phillip SW Goldson International Airport in Belize through significant capital investment and enhanced management and operational expertise to be provided by NEWCO as the concessionaire.”

The complaint goes on to say that despite what NEWCO called its “good faith efforts to perform under the obligations of the Concession Agreement”, the GoB proceeded to terminate the Agreement via letter, which NEWCO acknowledged receipt of on November 11, 2003.

The contractor said that it “informed the GoB and BAA that it intended to pursue its remedies by arbitration under the dispute resolution provisions of the Concession Agreement”.

According to OffshoreAlert, the complaint states that the arbitration took place in Miami, Florida, in January-February 2008 and a final award was issued on June 23, 2008 in favour of NEWCO and against the GoB, whom the Tribunal said had breached its obligations under the Concession Agreement.

The complaint explained that the T ribunal awarded NEWCO just over US$4.2 million, plus the plaintiff’s costs of arbitration, which were later determined to be US$160,753. In addition, the GoB was ordered to pay interest at the rate of 8 percent per annum, compounded quarterly for the period from the date of the award to the date of payment.

According to OffshoreAlert, NEWCO is seeking a judgment to confirm the arbitration award and entering a judgment in the amount of just over US$4.4 million, plus interest.