BCB HOLDINGS LIMITED et al v. GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE
MEMORANDUM OPINION Regarding 58 ORDER GRANTING Petitioners' 53 Motion for an Order Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1610(c) Authorizing Enforcement of Judgment, DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE Petitioners' 54 Motion for Anti-Suit Injunction, and DENYING Petitioners' 54 Motion for Temporary Restraining Order. Signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on 2/6/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B) (lcckk3)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
BCB HOLDINGS LIMITED and
THE BELIZE BANK LIMITED,
Civil Action No. 14-1123 (CKK)
THE GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE,
(February 6, 2017)
This matter comes before the Court on Petitioners’  Motion for an Order Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1610(c) Authorizing Enforcement of Judgment and  Motion for Anti-Suit
Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order. Petitioners BCB Holdings Limited (“Holdings”)
and the Belize Bank Limited (“BBL”) (collectively “Petitioners”) initiated an arbitration against
the Government of Belize (“GOB”) on October 16, 2008, before the London Court of
International Arbitration (“LCIA”) in London, England. The LCIA issued an award in favor of
Petitioners, and this Court subsequently confirmed that award and entered judgment in favor of
Petitioners. The GOB apparently does not intend on paying the judgment entered by this Court.
Petitioners now request an order authorizing the enforcement of that judgment and also
seek an anti-suit injunction enjoining the GOB from taking certain actions in Belize that would
effectively prevent Petitioners from enforcing this Court’s judgment. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court GRANTS Petitioners’  Motion for an Order Authorizing Enforcement of
Judgment, DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Petitioners’  Motion for Anti-Suit Injunction
on the present record, and DENIES Petitioners’  Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order
on the grounds asserted in this case.
Aggrieved by the repudiation of a Settlement Deed entered into between the parties,
Petitioners initiated an arbitration against the GOB on October 16, 2008, before the LCIA in
London, England. Decl. of Jessica Wells, ECF No. 32-3, at ¶ 5(c). The GOB opted to abstain
from the arbitration, and the proceedings were accordingly conducted ex parte. Id. On August
18, 2009, the arbitral tribunal issued an award in favor of Petitioners and concluded that the GOB
owed Petitioners BZ $40,843,272.34 in damages plus interest and costs. Id. at ¶ 5(f).
On August 21, 2009, Petitioners sought to enforce their arbitral award in Belize. Decl. of
Louis Kimmelman, ECF No. 1-2, at ¶ 16. The GOB opposed the enforcement of the award,
arguing that it was contrary to the law and public policy of Belize. Id. The Supreme Court of
Belize enforced the Award in late 2010, and the GOB appealed this decision in early 2011 to the
Belize Court of Appeals. Id. at 17-18. The appellate court reversed the decision below and held
that the Award would not be enforced. Id. at 19. On July 26, 2013, the Caribbean Court of
Justice (“CCJ”), Belize’s final court of appeal, affirmed on public policy grounds. Id. at 20.
On July 1, 2014, Holdings and BBL filed in this Court a Petition to Confirm Foreign
Arbitration Award and to Enter Judgment or, Alternatively, Complaint to Recognize and Enforce
Foreign Money Judgment. See Petition to Enforce, ECF No. 1. This Court confirmed
Petitioners’ arbitration award on June 24, 2015. See BCB Holdings Ltd. v. Gov’t of Belize, 110
F. Supp. 3d 233 (D.D.C. 2015), aff’d, 650 F. App’x 17 (D.C. Cir. 2016), cert. denied, No. 16136, 2017 WL 69187 (U.S. Jan. 9, 2017). A copy of this opinion is attached hereto as Exhibit A.
The Court then entered judgment confirming the Award and converting it into U.S. dollars, plus
prejudgment interest, in the total amount of $27,429,996.56. ECF No. 47.
Respondents opposed the petition to confirm the award on numerous grounds, one of
which is of particular note here. Respondents claimed that the final judgment rendered by the
CCJ refusing to enforce the arbitration award prevented the Petitioners from enforcing the award
in this jurisdiction. See BCB Holdings Ltd., 110 F. Supp. 3d at 245-46. Specifically,
Respondents argued that the doctrines of res judicata, collateral estoppel, and international
comity barred the petition to confirm because a competent court, the CCJ, had already issued a
final judgment refusing to enforce the Award. Id. at 245. The Court rejected this argument. Id.
The Court explained that only the country in which an award is made, referred to as the primary
jurisdiction, may set aside an award. Id. at 246. All other member-countries to the New York
Convention are designated as secondary jurisdictions. Although these secondary jurisdictions
may refuse to enforce an award, their doing so does not preclude other jurisdictions from
enforcing it. Id. In this case, England—which did recognize and confirm the award—was the
primary jurisdiction, and accordingly the CCJ decision did not prevent this Court from enforcing
Petitioners’ award. Id.
Respondents appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which
affirmed this Court’s judgment in its entirety. See BCB Holdings Ltd. v. Gov’t of Belize, 650 F.
App’x 17, 20 (D.C. Cir. 2016), cert. denied, No. 16-136, 2017 WL 69187 (U.S. Jan. 9, 2017). A
copy of this opinion is attached hereto as Exhibit B. The United States Supreme Court then
denied Respondent’s petition for certiorari on January 9, 2017. See Gov’t of Belize v. BCB
Holdings Ltd., No. 16-136, 2017 WL 69187, at *1 (U.S. Jan. 9, 2017). On January 23, 2017,
Petitioners filed a motion for an order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1610(c) authorizing enforcement
of the judgment, which is now pending before this Court.
Thereafter, Belize took a number of steps that were apparently aimed at preventing
Petitioners from taking any further actions to enforce their judgment from this Court. On
January 27, 2017, Belize introduced legislation in the Belizean Parliament entitled The Crown
Proceedings (Amendment) Act 2017. This Act criminalizes efforts to enforce foreign judgments
against Belize in any court outside Belize. The Act states: “Where it has been determined by a
court in Belize, that a foreign judgment is unlawful, void or otherwise invalid, a person who,
whether in or outside of Belize, and whether by the institution of proceedings or otherwise,
enforces or attempts to enforce the foreign judgment commits an offence.” Pets.’ Ex. A, ECF
No. 54-2 (Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act 2017), § 3–29B(1). Violation of this Act
results in criminal penalties for individuals consisting of fines not exceeding BZ $150,000, or
terms of imprisonment not exceeding two years, or both. Id., § 3–29B(2). The statute states that
“[a]n application shall lie to the Supreme Court to issue an injunction against a person restraining
the person from commencing, intervening in or continuing any proceedings for enforcement of a
foreign judgment, whether in or outside of Belize, on the basis that a competent court in Belize
has declared such foreign judgment unlawful, void or otherwise invalid.” Id., § 3–29B(3).
On the same day, Belize introduced legislation entitled The Central Bank of Belize
(International Immunities) Act, 2017. This Act states that “[a] person commits an offence who,
whether in Belize or outside of Belize, and whether in respect of a matter occurring before or
after the coming into operation of this Act . . . (a) has instituted, intervened in or sought the
conduct of proceedings in any foreign State, being proceedings from which the Bank or the
property of the Bank would, by virtue of section 3, be immune . . . .” Pets.’ Ex. B, ECF No. 54-3
(Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act, 2017), § 4–(1). Section 3 of the act
purports to immunize the property of the Central Bank of Belize from proceedings
for attachment, arrest or execution in any foreign court. Id., § 3.
There is no dispute as to the purpose of these statutes. On January 27, 2017, the Prime
Minister of Belize expressly stated in a speech to the Belize Parliament that the statutes
are intended to interfere with Petitioners’ efforts to enforce this Court’s judgment against the
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, and in fact, to speak to
circumstances that we’re all already familiar with, we had thought
it prudent to do this because of the fact that the Ashcroft Concerns,
BSDL, BCB Holdings, Ltd., which I gather is now trading—has
changed its name to Caribbean Investment Holdings, Ltd.—and The
Belize Bank, Ltd. have obtained final judgment in the United States
on arbitral awards given against the government of Belize and in
favor of BSDL, Belize Bank, Ltd., and BCB Holdings, Ltd. Last
Tuesday, those entities filed a motion in the District Court in
Washington, D.C., filed an application to be allowed to enforce
those judgments against the government of Belize. Notwithstanding
that certainly in one case, as all Belize, and indeed now all the world
knows, the final judgment flies completely in the face of the decision
of our highest court, the CCJ, which decision says that that arbitral
award is unenforceable, because it is repugnant to public policy, and
it is void and illegal.
Decl. of Louis B. Kimmelman, ECF No. 54-1, ¶ 15. On January 31, 2017, the Belizean
legislature enacted both statutes. Id. ¶ 16.
On February 1, 2017, the GOB sent the Registrar for the CCJ a letter stating that it “will
tomorrow file with the [CCJ] an urgent inter party application for an Anti-Enforcement
Injunction to restrain [Petitioners] from enforcing or causing to be enforced the very same LCIA
Final Award for which this Honourable Court, in the matter at caption, has declined enforcement
by its judgment dated July 26, 2013.” Pets.’ Ex. C, ECF No. 54-4 at 1. The GOB represented to
the CCJ that the need for injunctive relief was urgent because Petitioners had filed a motion for
an order authorizing enforcement of judgment in this Court. Id. at 1-2.
On February 2, 2017, the Registrar responded to the GOB’s letter, explaining that the
CCJ “has not observed from the content of your communication any basis on which it can
exercise powers which are ordinarily exercised by the Supreme Court. Accordingly, it may be
more appropriate to file your application in the Supreme Court of Belize unless you can show the
Caribbean Court of Justice has jurisdiction.” Pets.’ Ex. D, ECF No. 54-5 at 4. The GOB filed its
application for injunctive relief with the CCJ regardless, seeking “[a]n Order restraining
[Petitioners,] their successors, assigns, and/or subsidiaries whether by themselves, their officers,
servants, affiliates, or agents from enforcing or causing to be enforced the said LCIA Final
Award or any judgment upon the said award, in any jurisdiction or to commence or continue any
other legal or arbitral proceedings in any country or jurisdiction whether in or outside of Belize
relating to or arising out of the said final Award.” Pets.’ Ex. G, ECF No. 54-8 at 2. The CCJ
immediately denied the GOB’s application, holding that “the application for injunctive relief
filed by the Respondent/Applicant on the 2nd day of February, 2017 is hereby dismissed for lack
of jurisdiction, there being no pending appeal before the Court.” Pets.’ Ex. I, ECF No. 54-10.
Later that day, the GOB notified Petitioners that it would seek this same injunctive relief
in the Supreme Court of Belize. Pets.’ Ex. J, ECF No. 54-11. The GOB provided a draft of the
application it intended to file, which sought an order that Petitioners “be restrained from
enforcing or causing to be enforced the Final Award issued by the London Court of International
Arbitration (LCIA) in Arbitration No. 81169 in the sum of BZ $40,843,272.34 in Damages,
£206,248.14 in arbitration costs and BZ $2,960,735.69 in legal and professional costs in favour
of the Respondents (‘the Award’) or upon any judgment upon the said Award in any jurisdiction
or to commence or continue any other legal or arbitral proceedings in any country or jurisdiction
whether in or outside of Belize relating to or arising out of the said final Award or upon any
judgment upon the said Award.” Pets.’ Ex. K, ECF No. 54-12, at 2.
On Friday, February 3, 2017, after being notified of this application, Petitioners filed the
pending motion for an anti-suit injunction and a temporary restraining order in this Court. ECF
No. 54. Petitioners sought from this Court an injunction preventing the GOB from “(i) initiating,
prosecuting or maintaining any proceeding for injunctive relief in the courts of Belize, or in any
other foreign court, against Holdings that seeks to restrain, interfere with or prevent Holdings
from enforcing this Court’s Judgment (and the underlying arbitral award) in the United States or
(ii) threatening Holdings with any injunction or other court order that seeks to restrain, interfere
with or prevent Holdings from enforcing this Court’s Judgment (and the underlying arbitral
award) in the United States.” Proposed Order, ECF No. 54-15.
The Court held a teleconference with the parties on Petitioners’ motion the afternoon it
was filed, during which counsel for the GOB represented to the Court and to Petitioners that the
GOB had already gone before the Supreme Court of Belize earlier that day to submit its
application and provide oral argument. See Transcript of February 3, 2017 Telephone
Conference, ECF No. 57-5 at 10:11-15 (“within the last hour the Government of Belize already
went into court, already presented oral argument on their request for an injunction, and the judge
has taken the matter under submission”). Counsel for Petitioners was not able to attend the
argument on the extremely short notice. Id. at 13:22-14:7. At the conclusion of this
teleconference, the Court ordered the GOB to respond to Petitioners’ motion for a temporary
restraining order pending the Court’s decision on Petitioners’ motion for an anti-suit injunction
by no later than 10:00 a.m. on Monday, February 6, 2017. 2/3/2017 Min. Order. The Court also
ordered the parties to appear for a hearing on the temporary restraining order at 11:00 a.m.
Monday morning. Id.
Late Sunday night, Respondents filed a response to Petitioners’ Motion for an Order
Authorizing Enforcement of Judgment. ECF No. 56. Although challenging the scope and
wording of the order sought by Petitioners in that motion, Respondents conceded that Petitioners
were entitled to an order pursuant to section 1610(c) “confirming that a reasonable period of time
has elapsed since entry of the Judgment, and that GOB has been given notice of entry of
Judgment required by Section 1608(e).” Id. at 1.
On Monday morning the GOB filed its opposition to Petitioners’ motion for a temporary
restraining order. ECF No. 57. The GOB revealed therein that since the teleconference on
Friday afternoon, the GOB had succeeded in obtaining the sought injunction from the Supreme
Court of Belize, preventing Petitioners from doing anything further to enforce the judgment
issued by this Court. Id. An hour later, the Court held a hearing on the record on Petitioners’
pending motions. Counsel for the GOB appeared by telephone. Petitioner BBL did not attend at
all, for fear of the criminal penalties that would result from violating the Belize injunction.
Counsel for Petitioner Holdings appeared pro forma, but did not present any argument or
otherwise take any action that could be construed as attempting to enforce or causing to be
enforced the judgment in this case. Counsel for GOB warned counsel for Holdings that making
any representations to the Court could result in Holdings being criminally punished for violating
the Belize injunction.
A. Petitioners’ Motion for an Order Authorizing Enforcement of Judgment
The Court is in receipt of Petitioners’ Motion for an Order Authorizing Enforcement of
Judgment and Respondents’ response to that motion. Both sides have had an opportunity to brief
this matter and the Court considers it fully submitted. In their motion, Petitioners seek an order
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1610(c), authorizing enforcement of the judgment against the GOB.
Section 1610(c) states that:
No attachment or execution referred to in subsections (a) and (b) of
this section shall be permitted until the court has ordered such
attachment and execution after having determined that a reasonable
period of time has elapsed following the entry of judgment and the
giving of any notice required under section 1608(e) of this chapter.
28 U.S.C. § 1610(c). Petitioners argue that the GOB has had sufficient notice of the judgment,
and that a reasonable amount of time has passed following entry of judgment, for it to seek
attachment or execution.
Respondent concedes, at least for the purposes of this motion, that Petitioners are entitled
to an order pursuant to section 1610(c) “confirming that a reasonable period of time has elapsed
since entry of the Judgment, and that GOB has been given notice of entry of Judgment required
by Section 1608(e).” See Resp.’s Opp’n to Mot. for Order Authorizing Enforcement of
Judgment, ECF No. 56, at 1. Respondent only opposes Petitioners’ motion to the extent it more
broadly requests an order that Petitioners are “authorized to enforce” this Court’s judgment.
Respondent requests a more narrowly drafted order that states only that the notice and time
requirements of section 1610(c) are satisfied.
The Court GRANTS Petitioners’ motion. The Court notes that it does not interpret
Petitioners’ motion as asking for anything broader than what Respondents concede Petitioners
are entitled to: a determination “that a reasonable period of time has elapsed following the entry
of judgment and the giving of any notice required under section 1608(e) of this chapter.” Id. at
5. Accordingly, the Petitioners’ motion is GRANTED to the extent it seeks this determination.
The Petitioners’ motion is also GRANTED in that the Court orders that Petitioners are
authorized to seek to enforce their judgment via attachment or execution of GOB property in the
appropriate jurisdiction. The Court does not make any determination as to the propriety of
attachment or execution of any particular property under subsections (a) or (b) of section 1610.
See Agudas Chasidei Chabad of U.S. v. Russian Fed’n, 798 F. Supp. 2d 260, 270-71 (D.D.C.
2011) (“A 1610(c) order, in the context of this case, does not authorize the attachment or
execution of particular property—or any property at all . . . Any court, whether this or another,
would be required to evaluate a proposed attachment of specific property in this case by
reviewing the jurisdictional provisions of § 1610(a)-(b), as well as any other immunities that
B. Petitioners’ Motion for Anti-Suit Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order
Having granted Petitioners’ motion under section 1610(c), there is no longer any need for
this Court, on the present record, to issue an anti-suit injunction. Anti-suit injunctions are
intended to protect the Court’s jurisdiction. See Laker Airways Ltd. v. Sabena, Belgian World
Airlines, 731 F.2d 909, 927 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (“Courts have a duty to protect their legitimately
conferred jurisdiction to the extent necessary to provide full justice to litigants.”). Although the
actions of the GOB are apparently aimed at preventing Petitioners from enforcing the judgment
of this Court, at this time they do not interfere with this Court’s jurisdiction. This Court has
confirmed Petitioners’ arbitration award, entered judgment in favor of Petitioners, and now
authorized Petitioners to proceed to seek to enforce this judgment in the appropriate jurisdiction
in which it can find attachable property of the GOB. Presently there is no issue left for this Court
to adjudicate. Accordingly, strictly on the present record before the Court, the need to protect
this Court’s jurisdiction does not warrant issuing an anti-suit injunction. Petitioners’ motion for
an anti-suit injunction is therefore DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Given that the temporary
restraining order Petitioners sought was intended to preserve the status quo pending resolution of
the Petitioners’ motion for an anti-suit injunction, the Court will likewise DENY Petitioners’
motion for a temporary restraining order on the grounds asserted.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Petitioners’  Motion for an Order
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1610(c) Authorizing Enforcement of Judgment. The Court determines
that the GOB has been given all required notice and that a reasonable period of time has elapsed
following the entry of judgment in this matter and the giving of such notice for Petitioners to
now seek attachment or execution pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1610(a)-(b). The Court further orders
that Petitioners may now seek attachment or execution of GOB property to satisfy this Court’s
judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1610(a)-(b) in the jurisdictions where such attachment or
execution is appropriate. Additionally, the Court DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Petitioners’
 Motion for Anti-Suit Injunction on the present record, and DENIES Petitioners’  Motion
for Temporary Restraining Order on the grounds asserted therein.
United States District Judge
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