On Tuesday Oceana Belize had a major victory in court when they up-ended 6 offshore oil drilling contracts.
Well, their next challenge in the Supreme Court hasn’t been enjoying as much success as that one. That’s because since the Chief Elections Officer disqualified 8,047 of their signatures to trigger a referendum on off-shore oil drilling in 2012, the GOB attorneys have been ensuring that the court doesn’t reverse it.
Today, once again, GOB, successfully managed to convince Justice Michelle Arana to dismiss an application from Oceana for leave to appeal concerning her ruling to strike the challenge out on a technicality of tardiness in December of 2012.
We spoke to both sides outside of court, including Audrey Matura-Shepherd, who is undeterred by this dismissal. She says that these setbacks will not discourage her from trying to get the Court of Appeal to hear the matter.
Denys Barrow - Attorney for GOB
"The Oceana people had applied for leave to appeal against the earlier decision of Justice Arana, striking out their claim, which have been filed out of time. We took the objection on this application today that again, they have made a misstep and they applied for leave to appeal when they had a clear right to appeal without making any application for leave. Therefore the application for leave was a mistake. It was meaningless and as the judge said she has no authority to give leave. If they wanted to appeal they ought to have filed a notice of appeal. So they have no appeal"
Audrey Matura-Shepherd - VP. Oceana Belize
"We will defiitely find a way to come before the court of appea. We will solve all the preliminary matters and all the technicalities. I'm sure there will be many more objections but it's just the way the process works."
"It means that there is a non appeal. There is no possibility right now of them getting their way so it means that the decisions striking out their claim stands whether they decide that they will make an application to the Court of Appeal is a matter for them"
"A lot of times people bugged down because, of course, it is a lot of procedure and a lot of technicalities, a lot of paper work and a lot of intricate details that people don't know"
"There are people who are very zealous advocates. They have money and they can put the Government through all sorts expenses and headaches defending against their continued advocacy so it is a matter for them."
According to Matura-Shepherd, they have 2 options. They can either appeal this decision to strike out leave to appeal, or, they can go to the Court of Appeal, ask for an extension of time from that court, and then bring the appeal they were seeking.
Either way, it will be an extensive process, which Matura-Shepherd says she’s prepared to go through.