BELIZE CITY, November 25, 2022 - Caribbean jurist, Louise Blenman has been sworn in as the first Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal of the CARICOM member state of Belize. Chief Justice Blenman was sworn in on November 22, 2022 before Belize’s Governor General Dame Froyla Tzalam, just over two months after she was sworn in as Belize’s Chief Justice of the High Court.
Justice Blenman’s appointment as Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal is in keeping with last month’s appeal of the Supreme Court of Judicature and Court of Appeal Act. The new law enlarges the role of the Chief Justice who will preside over the criminal and civil divisions of both the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
The Senior Courts Act lays the groundwork for the replacement of the Supreme Court of Belize with a new High Court, which along with the Court of Appeal, will be part of a Senior Court system in Belize, the online newspaper, Amandala, has reported.
Amandala also explained that the Chief Justice would be aided by the President of the Court of Appeal, two senior judges in both the civil and criminal divisions, and judges with specializations in order to expedite those highly technical cases. New roles such as Master of Courts will also be established in both divisions to further facilitate the operations within the new system.
Belize’s final court of appeal is the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Justice Louise Blenman has been in the field of law for over thirty years, serving as a High Court judge in Anguilla in 2003. She was later appointed to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal in 2012 and served there up until recently. She has also served in senior judicial positions in St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda. She holds an Honour’s Degree in Law from the University of the West Indies, which she obtained in 1986. She later obtained the Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad in 1988.
“I am Guyanese by birth, St. Lucian by naturalisation and Caribbean by inclination. I am a Caribbean woman jurist. Similarly, Belize is Caribbean, and therefore we have that in common. I am greatly honoured to be given the opportunity to serve the people of Belize as Chief Justice,” said Justice Blenman, who noted that Belize reminds her of her home country, Guyana.
Earlier this year, a press release from the Government of Belize revealed that, after advertising the position of Chief Justice both locally and throughout the Caribbean, they had received a total of eight applications, though none were from Belizean applicants. Based on her qualifications, her experience, and her interview, Blenman was recommended favourably to the Prime Minister for appointment as Chief Justice.