A procedural mistake made in the filing of an Order of Mandamus by Counsel, Audrey Matura-Shepherd on behalf of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association has caused the motion to fail in the Supreme Court.
The petition asked the Supreme Court to direct the Sugar Industry Control Board to intervene in an industrial dispute between the Cane Farmers Association and Belize Sugar Industries Limited.
Madam Justice, Shona Griffith this week ruled that a hearing for the Mandamus Order could not go forward because of a problem in the way the claim was submitted.
Senior Counsel, Eamon Courtenay, representing de-fendants,the Sugar Industry Control Board, informed the Court that the claimant had failed to attach a critical affidavit to the claim form.
Upon leaving the Court, Senior co-counsel for the Sugar Industry Control Board, Rodwell Williams told the Reporter: “I believe at the end of the day, the judge was persuaded that she ought to strike the … claim out, on the grounds that it failed to comply with the Rules of Court … and she did that.”
Plaintiff’s Attorney, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, however, took a different view. “His objection was that when we filed the substantive claim we needed to reproduce the first affidavit we had put in when we made the application.
“Our view was that, no, because we made mention that in the application we are still relying on that affidavit to be part of the evidence.”
Claimant, Lucilo Teck was visibly disappointed as he left the courtroom. He insists that his intentions were good in trying to force the Sugar Industry Control Board to act, because a substantive hearing would have established the SICB’s authority in terms of setting the start-of- crop season. Such a ruling would have helped the cause of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association in the future.
With the Mandamus hearing out the way, the legal authority of the Suar Industry Control Board in calling the shots has still not been established, and the internal discord within the BSCFA is still rankling.
The matter of whether the Sugar Industry Control Board has legal authority to arbitrarily end an industrial dispute first came before the court on January 9, 2015. This was after the Ministry of Agriculture had declared that the SICB did not have the authority to end the dispute, and could not force a start -up of the crop season.
The claimant, cane-farmer Lucilo Teck, acting on legal advice his lawyer had given him, sought a declaration from the court that the Sugar Industry Control Board could, on its own authority, order the parties in the dispute to go back to work.