By Benjamin Flowers
Attorney Arthur Saldivar and Burrell Boom resident Trevor Vernon used over $4,000 in coins this week to pay court costs from failed litigations.
Saldivar used $2000 in coins to make his initial payment towards the $9,500 in legal fee owed to attorney Rodwell Williams.
Vernon paid $2,489.50 in coins as part payment of $5,000 in legal fees owed to attorney Denys Barrow.
Williams rejected Saldivar’s payment by citing section 22 (4) of the Central Bank Act, which limits the amount of coins one can use to pay a debt.
Saldivar told the Reporter on Thursday that he was within his rights to pay in coins because the majority of his payment was in dollar coins.
“The act only applies to shillings and 50 cent coins, and I only had a few dollars worth of those.”
He added that the act allows for him to pay up to $100 using shillings and 50 cent coins. Williams told the media that he intends to file against Saldivar a writ of execution, a court order requiring him to pay within a designated time or his assets will be valued and sold to satisfy the debt.
After receiving Vernon’s payment, Barrow noted that he was $10.50 short of half payment and filed for a writ of execution. The writ was granted and Vernon was given five days from Wednesday to pay the remaining $2,510.50.
The court bailiff serving the writ marked off which of Vernon’s assets would be sold if he fails to meet the deadline. Under the courts order, until the matter is settled, Vernon cannot dispose of or otherwise tamper with this assets.
Vernon said that he had to fund raise to come up with the money, most of which was given to him by residents of Belize Rural North.
“I paid in coins to make a statement for the people who opened their piggy banks for me and gave what they had to help.”
Both men ended up paying legal fees for losing court battles against ministers of government.
Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow successfully sued Saldivar for defamation, due to accusations he reportedly made on a phone call to a radio station 2011.
The Supreme Court ordered him to pay $60,000 in damages and $9,500 to Williams, who represented Barrow.
In February, Vernon filed for a court declaration that Minister of State Edmond Castro abused his ministerial authority by using funds from the Belize Airport Authority for his personal use.
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin accepted the argument that Vernon filed for the declaration under public law principles when he should have used private law; he, therefore, struck down the case before it went to trial.
Vernon said that he does not intend to refile for a declaration against Castro, but noted that he paved the way for any resident who wishes to file against him.