The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Wednesday delivered judgement in a matter between the owner for former bus company, Gilharry’s Bus Line from Corozal, and the Transport Board of Belize.
The regional court declared that the Transport Board did not properly consider the renewal of Gilharry’s application and frustrated his legitimate expectation to operate his business.
Despite operating buses along the northern route in the country for almost 40 years, in 2008 when the Barrow Administration took office, and introduced new policies in the transportation system which were objected to by bus operators, transport officials granted temporary road service permits for three months to all bus operators in the north who had applied for, and paid, the requisite fees.
Gilharry bus was offered new permits but according to the company, they were fewer and far less lucrative than they had before. The bus company chose not to pay for the new permits and did not adhere to the revised schedules that were put in place. Officials moved to stop Gilharry buses from running on the road, which was then challenged in courts.
While the CCJ found that there was nothing illegal with the Board approving the proposed new schedules or bus routes which the bus operators, and that the Board had not acted outside its statutory powers and duties, it disagreed with earlier court rulings that Gilharry was not entitled to a fair procedure even though he chose not to operate under the new rules imposed.
The CCJ found that Gilharry had a legitimate expectation which was not honoured by the Board. Gilharry’s attorneys had presented insufficient evidence to assess what losses were incurred therefore, they only ordered the Transport Board to pay Gilharry’s costs before the CCJ and other courts which includes an immediate payment of BZ$40,000.