An Update on I.C.J. Developments

Posted By: Marty

An Update on I.C.J. Developments - 09/19/19 11:31 AM

Things have been fairly quiet since the historic decision, following a referendum on May eighth, to proceed to the International Court of Justice to settle the longstanding territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala.  While the lull was expected, we asked Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington for an update on the process.  He says that Belize is still in the process of putting together its legal team.

Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“All I can say is that we have been working on the issue of the retaining of our legal team and I think that Mr. Assad Shoman is presently engaged in trying to finalize that part of it.  In the meantime, I imagine the Guatemalans are preparing their case and as soon as we have our legal team in place they will be doing more work on it.  I do know that we have been doing more work on it in terms of research and the like.  So all things seem to be going well in that quarter.”


“By that, what exactly do you mean because we had several attorneys in place already.  You’re adding, where is the intention to get them from?”

Wilfred Elrington

“There was recommendation made which the prime minister took onboard that we should invite other firms to express interest and we look at the proposal they put to us.  That was done and that has been dealt with.”

Isani Cayetano

“So what becomes of Fairfields and the other partners?”

Wilfred Elrington

“It doesn’t mean that they will not be involved.  I am saying, as we speak, Ambassador Shoman is negotiating with them to see if we could get the best deal.  We always try to get the best deal for Belize.”

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: An Update on I.C.J. Developments - 09/21/19 12:13 PM

How Much Will ICJ Attorneys Cost?

5 Months ago, on May 8th, Belizeans made history when they decided, via a national referendum, that they wanted to go to the ICJ to resolve Guatemala's territorial claim over Belize.

Since then, government has been taking the necessary procedural steps to proceed to the ICJ.

But, it has become obvious to the Prime Minister and his advisors that a painful decision must be taken soon. He's taking a hard look at what are likely the astronomical fees that the country will incur, so as to give us the best fighting chance at the Hague.

And so, as head of Government, he has invited offers from some of the top law firms in the world, to sort of shop around for the best offer. He made it clear that the firm, Freshfields, which was previously retained, is among the possible options:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"It's costing as you would imagine a great deal of money. We've been operating on the basis of paying for work done. Now that the matter if referred to the court, we know there is going to be the litigation and the question arises of entering into an agreement as to charges as to how fees will be calculated and as to how we will pay. I just saw a ranking by the financial times a European law firm and they have fresh fees at the top, so let me be clear that there is no dissatisfaction with the level of representation by fresh fees at all, but we thought that for purposes of transparency now that you're getting to the point where you have to pull the trigger on this huge expense, the Belizean people deserve to know that we invited a number of law firms to as it were tender for the contract, the retainer to represent Belize at the ICJ."

"Are you able to tell us, give us an idea about what the fees this particular case would look like when we finally get to the...?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"Let me know do so, because the different law firms that we've invited to tender have different rates of fees. I don't know that any - these are all top level firms and none of them is cheap. We are trying to be very careful to weigh everything in the balance and to try to make the best decision on behalf of the Belizean people. A decision that will give us the best value for the shitload of money that we will have to spend."

Some estimates have estimated those lawyer fees at 10 million US dollars.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: An Update on I.C.J. Developments - 04/30/20 10:16 AM

International Court of Justice grants 6-month filing extension in Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute

This decision was made on April 22nd, when the ICJ held its first-ever virtual plenary meeting from inside the Peace Palace, in The Hague, Netherlands. In that meeting, decisions were made to postpone a few judicial matters. The ICJ also released an official note regarding the Belize-Guatemala dispute, citing a letter from the Agent of the Republic of Guatemala, dated April 8, 2020, asking for an extension of twelve months to submit their Memorial. It explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in delays in his government’s preparation of that pleading.

Belize tried to challenge such a petition, and on April 15th, they objected to Guatemala’s request and sought only a two-month extension. However, the ICJ agreed to grant Guatemala six months of extension. After Guatemala’s Memorial has been filed, the Counter-Memorial of Belize will be required to be submitted between June 8, 2021, and June 8, 2022. The information in the Memorials is basically each country trying to justify the nature of their case. Guatemala will attempt to justify any rights over the country of Belize. Belize will dispute those submissions and convince the ICJ that Guatemala has no rights over Belize.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun
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