CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE IN BRITISH HONDURAS
This article will provide guidance on the Code of Civil Procedure in British Honduras. British Honduras was a Crown colony on the east coast of Central America, south of Mexico, from 1783 until 1964. A self-governing colony, renamed British Honduras in June 1973, until September 1981, when it obtained full independence as British Honduras. British Honduras was the last continental territory of the United Kingdom in the Americas.
The colony originated from the Treaty of Versailles (1783) between Britain and Spain, which guaranteed the British rights to harvest logwood between the Hondo and British Honduras rivers. The Convention of London (1786) increased this concession to encompass the land between the British Honduras and Sibun rivers. In 1862, the Settlement of British Honduras in the Bay of Honduras recognized a British colony named British Honduras, and the Crown's envoy was converted to a lieutenant governor, subject to the governor of Jamaica.
An early form of self-government among the colonists was a public meeting system, unlike the New England town meeting. Burnaby's Code, a set of regulations enacted in 1765, remained in effect until the establishment of an executive council in 1840.
British Honduras was ruled as a dependency of the British colony of Jamaica from 1749 until 1884. Upon becoming a Crown colony in 1871, the superintendent was replaced by a Lieutenant Governor reporting to the Governor of Jamaica, and a nominated Legislative Council replaced the Legislative Assembly. At the time of its separation from Jamaica in 1884, the colony had its own Governor.
The country's legal system is modeled after that of England. On September 21, 1981, the day of British Honduras's independence from the United Kingdom, a formal Constitution was ratified. Its bill of rights is one of the most comprehensive in the world. It also creates the Supreme Court of British Honduras and the judicial branch of the British Honduran government.
THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN BRITISH HONDURAS
The courts of British Honduras are structured as adversarial systems. Cases in the judicial system include both oral and written presentations of arguments. The Supreme Court now permits the electronic filing of documents in civil actions in accordance with the Supreme Court (Electronic Filing and Service) Rules, 2021. Submissions are made via the Supreme Court's online site, where they are uploaded digitally.
When the Court office receives the filing fee, and a copy of the document bearing the stamp or seal of the Court is given to the filing party, that is the date and hour at which the document is considered filed. An emergency application may be submitted anytime, but it must include a Certificate of Urgency to be considered. It is also common practice for the Supreme Court to grant a party's request to seal and keep confidential the papers, record of proceedings, and evidence in certain circumstances.
Attorneys authorized to practice law in British Honduras under the Legal Profession Act, 2011, and agents of the British Honduras government, still referred to as the Crown, are entitled to the rights of audience in British Honduras courts.
PRE-ACTION CONDUCT IN BRITISH HONDURAS
Putative claimants often make written demands on potential defendants before filing the action; however, the law does not require this. These requests will often include the items being sought and a time frame within which they must be met, or legal action will be taken.
These are standard courtesy procedures. While such pre-action processes have proved useful, implementing court-connected mediation regulations has shown their full value. This is because after a lawsuit has been filed, the court will often send the matter to mediation in an effort to facilitate settlement talks outside of court. Therefore, parties may save time and money by taking these pre-action actions to engage the opposite party before filing a lawsuit. Any prospective defendant who receives such correspondence may choose to respond.
A standard statute of limitations for tort and contract-based lawsuits is six years. The statute of limitations is six years from when an actionable wrong occurs. Some claims based on adverse possession of the real property, claims against the estates of dead people, and claims based on trust principles are time-barred after twelve years.
JURISDICTION IN THE STATE
The British Honduras Supreme Court has jurisdiction over everyone physically inside the country. The jurisdiction provision in the contract, which includes the parties' choice of law and choice of dispute resolution method and venue, will normally be recognized and honored by a British Honduras court hearing a claim based on the contract.
Legal service of process issued by the British Honduras Supreme Court may be made on a person at any location within the court's territorial jurisdiction. Alternatively, with the approval of the Supreme Court of British Honduras, the legal process may be served on a person outside of British Honduras. A defendant who is not physically present in the jurisdiction can accept service of process via an agent designated in the jurisdiction.
Any defendant who takes part in the British Honduras proceedings without promptly indicating that they do not accept the court's jurisdiction and intend to challenge it runs the risk of being deemed to have voluntarily submitted to the British Honduras court's jurisdiction or to have waived their right to challenge the court's jurisdiction. For example, this would be if the defendant filed a counterclaim and initiated proceedings in the British Honduras court. Though a court in British Honduras may have jurisdiction over a non-citizen under specific circumstances, it is within its discretion to refuse to exercise such authority.
FILING A CLAIM FORM IN British Honduras
Filing and serving a claim form with the Supreme Court initiates a lawsuit. This form includes information on the claimants, the claim itself, and the remedy requested. Commonly, it will be followed with a claim statement. In addition to the claim form, the party will need to submit a statement of claim that provides a more thorough description of your claim and all the data strictly necessary by law.
An affidavit may accompany the claim form in specific circumstances. Affidavits supporting a claim serve the same function as a statement of claim but as sworn evidence to back up the claim at the outset of the case, at the pleadings stage. A statement of claim is a pleading, not sworn evidence, even if it contains a declaration of truth through which a litigant confirms the truth of its contents.
If a claimant submits an affidavit supporting their case, the defendant may immediately react with an affidavit of their own. This practice is widespread in claims involving administrative law and judicial review, among others, and is helpful at the claim initiation stage.
When filing a lawsuit in British Honduras, parties have until the first case management conference to file all necessary filings with the court. After that time, the court's approval would be required for any party to seek an amendment. Generally, the party must apply to the court as soon as possible, showing that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the first case management conference to warrant the court's granting of its authorization.
HOW IS PROCESS service is CONDUCTED IN BRITISH HONDURAS
Personal service is the standard technique of delivering legal documents to a defendant. If the party is going to the Supreme Court, they will need to figure out how to have their opponent's court papers served on them. The court may also allow alternate service means, such as publishing in a newspaper with a large enough readership. If a party can show that personal service is impossible, the court will usually grant such a request.
If the defendant fails to promptly either acknowledge service of a claim or file and serve a defense, the claimant may receive a judgment in default. It is possible to bring a representative action in British Honduras. The court may appoint one or more individuals or an organization to represent five or more parties with the same or comparable interest in the proceedings. The plaintiffs or the defendants may have a representative chosen to serve on their behalf. An order of the court binding upon the party represented by the appointed representative applies to all parties represented by that representative.
However, it cannot be enforced against someone not a party to the proceedings without the court's approval. This provision for the representation of others in legal proceedings extends to the representation of those who cannot be identified, such as those who have yet to be born. These possibilities are particularly relevant in cases involving the administration of estates, the management of trust assets, or the interpretation of legal instruments.
It is possible to get pre-suit remedies (known as ‘interim remedies’ under British Honduras's civil process laws) if a party is in the right to do so before a claim is filed.
TRIAL PROCEDURES IN British Honduras
Trials include both presenting evidence and making arguments. The arguments and supporting evidence are given in both spoken and written formats. Affidavits are the standard method of presenting evidence in interim petitions. A written report from an expert witness is one kind of expert evidence that may be submitted. An expert witness may also provide testimony in court.
It is normal practice to question witnesses from the other side. Cross-examination is less usual in cases that are up for judicial review or where several interim petitions are being heard.
The principal way in which the court actively handles its cases is via case management hearings. A judge from the Supreme Court normally presides over these proceedings. Case management hearings are similar to in-chamber hearings, except the court may consider and rule on significant issues. The court often uses these sessions to issue orders about the ongoing administration of a case.
In very specific civil cases, jury trials are recognized under British Hondurasan law. However, this is seldom ever utilized in actual life.
LITIGATION REVIEW OR APPEAL IN British Honduras
The judicial system of British Honduras is multi-leveled. In the event of dissatisfaction with a lower court's ruling, the losing party may appeal to the higher court. The Caribbean Court of Justice is the country's highest and last court of appeal. That court also has original jurisdiction over cases under the Treaty of Chaguaramas, establishing the Caribbean Community Regional Block (CARICOM), of which British Honduras is a member.
Participants in a lawsuit may file an appeal if they so want or with the court's approval. This includes the ability to appeal ‘final’ decisions the Supreme Court makes. When the Supreme Court issues an ‘interlocutory’ order, an appeal must first get authorization from the court. If an appeal is to be filed, the appellant must seek approval from the Supreme Court (the trial court or court of first instance). If the Supreme Court denies permission to appeal, the prospective appellant might seek it from the Court of Appeal instead.
The Supreme Court's ruling may be appealed by filing and submitting a Notice of Appeal. The appeal filing deadline is twenty-one days from the day the court order was finalized.
Legal questions are all that may be addressed in an appeal. With few exceptions, appellate courts will defy lower courts' rulings on questions of fact and the use of a trial judge's discretionary powers. To best describe the function of British Honduras's appellate system, appeals should be understood as review exercises, not re-hearing.
ENFORCING FOREIGN AWARDS
A foreign award has to make sure that it is to be enforceable in British Honduras under the Act. This would require it to either have been [A.] formed in consequence of an agreement for arbitration which was legal under the legislation by which it was controlled; [B.] made by the tribunal established under the agreement or formed by mutual agreement between the parties; [C.] made in accordance with the statute regulating the arbitration process; [D.] rendered legally binding in the nation where they were formed; [E.] occurred in connection with a dispute that may be properly submitted to arbitration under British Honduras law, and its enforcement may not run counter to public policy or the law of British Honduras.
To enforce a foreign award, a party must provide the original award or copy of the award authenticated in accordance with the country's requirements and proof that the award has been made final. It may also be required that other evidence be asked to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the aforementioned standards have been met and that the award in question is foreign.
If the Supreme Court grants permission, a convention award may be enforced, like a judgment or decree. If the party against whom enforcement of a Convention award is sought demonstrates that a contracting party was incapacitated (under the legislation applicable to that party) or that the law to which the parties submitted their arbitration agreement was inapplicable, or in the absence of such legislation, the law of the nation in which the award was rendered. It could also be specified that they could not state their case because they were not provided enough notice of the arbitrator's appointment or the arbitration procedures.
Documents can be faxed at (800) - 296-0115, emailed to email@example.com, mailed to 590 Madison Avenue, 21 Floor, New York, New York 10022, or dropped off at any of our locations. We do require pre-payment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records.
Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist receives all documents.
DOMESTIC COVERAGE AREAS:
Alaska | Alabama | Arkansas | Arizona | California | Colorado | Connecticut | District of Columbia | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Iowa | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Massachusetts | Maine| Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | North Carolina | North Dakota | Nebraska | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | Nevada | New York | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island| South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Vermont | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE AREAS:
Albania | Andorra | Anguilla | Antigua | Argentina | Armenia | Australia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Bahamas | Barbados| Belarus | Belgium | Belize | Bermuda | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Botswana | Brazil | British Honduras | British Virgin Islands | Bulgaria | Canada | Cayman Islands | Central and Southern Line Islands | Chile|China (Macao) | China People's Republic | Colombia | Costa Rica | Country of Georgia | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | Egypt | Estonia | Falkland Islands and Dependences | Fiji | Finland | France | Germany | Gibraltar | Gilbert and Ellice Islands | Greece | Guernsey | Hong Kong | Hungary | Iceland | India | Ireland | Isle of Man | Israel | Italy | Jamaica | Japan | Jersey Channel Islands | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Korea | Kuwait| Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg| Malawi | Malaysia | Malta | Mauritius | Mexico| Monaco | Montenegro | Montserrat | Morocco | Namibia | Netherlands | New Zealand |Nicaragua | Norway | Pakistan | Panama | Paraguay| Peru | Philippines | Pitcairn |Poland| Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Republic of North Macedonia | Romania|Russian Federation | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | San Marino | Saudi Arabia | Serbia | Seychelles | Singapore| Slovakia | Slovenia | South Africa | Spain | Sri Lanka | St. Helena and Dependencies | St. Lucia | Sweden | Switzerland | Taiwan | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | Turks and Caicos Islands| Ukraine | United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland | Uruguay | US Virgin Islands | Uzbekistan | Venezuela | Vietnam
New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
Westchester: (914) 414-0877 – 50 Main Street, 10th Floor, White Plains, New York 10606
Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 - 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 - 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 300, Washington DC 20004
FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS IN BRITISH HONDURAS
Pick up the phone and call Toll-Free (800) 774-6922 or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your British Honduras process service needs; no job is too small or too large!
Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.
"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives" - Foster, William A
1. The structure consists mostly of four stages. This list includes, in descending order of importance:
- The Supreme Court of the Caribbean;
- Appeals Court of Belize;
- Supreme Court Justices; and
- The Local Magistrates' Office
2. Court papers may now be emailed instead of sent as of August 19, 2020. Based on the COVID-19 Directions 2020 issued by the Supreme Court of Judicature of Belize, court documents such as statements of cases and applications to sell real property are not eligible for electronic delivery.
3. If the judgment resolves a dispute that was not raised in the arbitration submission or that it includes findings or conclusions that go beyond the scope of the arbitration submission, or that the arbitral tribunal's make-up or its proceedings deviated from what was agreed upon by the parties or, if no such agreement existed, from what would have been required under the legislation of the country in which the arbitration was held; or that the award has not become final and binding on the parties, or that its effect has been temporarily stopped, by a competent body in the nation where or under the legislation under which it was made.