CCJ DISMISSES ACADEMIC APPEAL
Ya’Axchè Conservation Trust v Chief Forest Officer, The Attorney General, Belize Hydroelectrical Development and Management Company Limited  CCJ 14 (AJ)
The overriding need to preserve and protect the diverse ecosystems situated within the Bladen Branch Nature Reserve in Belize, fuelled the Ya’Axchè Conservation Trust’s call for the Court to re-examine the decision of the Court of Appeal (CA) of Belize. The CA held that the Administrator, under the National Parks Systems Act, could issue a permit to the Belize Hydroelectrical Development and Management Company Limited to conduct hydro-electric studies within the reserve. Ya’Axchè Conservation Trust contended that the Court of Appeal wrongly interpreted the powers of the Administrator since the object of the Act was to protect the natural reserve and preserve its undisturbed state.
The Ya’Axchè Conservation Trust, however, faced an obstacle of whether by the time the case was presented before the CCJ) there would be any existing issue for the Court to determine. The matter concerning the validity of the annual permit would by then only be in theory, because the permit would have been exhausted.
The CCJ was therefore invited to analyse the circumstances in which academic appeals could be heard. The Court noted that although there is no rule barring a matter where there is no live issue to be heard, it must still exercise caution in its discretion to entertain such appeals. It was therefore held that the Conservation Trust presented a compelling case which raised issues in public law. This summary is intended to assist the Caribbean public in learning more about the work of the CCJ. It is not a formal document of the Court. The judgment of the Court is the only authoritative document.