The ruling in a US$8million proper accounting case handed down against Ducor Petroleum by the Chief Judge of the Commercial Court, Eva Mappy Morgan, has been reversed by two other Judges of the same court, Chan-Chan A. Paegar and Richard S. Klah Sr.
The Commercial Court of Liberia is controlled by a three-judge panel, which includes the resident chief judge and two associate judges.
Article V (2) of the Commercial Court of Liberia Act 2010 confers jurisdiction on the panel to hear all matters in which the claimed amount is US$1million or above.
However, resident chief Judge Morgan, being fully aware of the act that created the Commercial Court of Liberia, heard alone a complaint filed by the Monrovia Oil Trading Company (MOTC) against the Ducor Petroleum without the rest of the panel present.
MOTC is owned by an Italian businessman, Charles Carron and James Sirleaf, one of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s sons while Ducor Petroleum is owned by Amos Brosius, a Liberian businessman.
Reversing their chief judge’s ruling, the panel insisted that Chief Judge Morgan’s action contravened article V (2) of the act that created the Commercial Court of Liberia.”
They declared that, “since the quantity of petroleum products allegedly supplied the petitioner (Ducor Petroleum) exceeds the threshold of US$1million; the request for proper accounting should have been handled by the three-judge panel, as is consistent with Article V (2) of the Act.”
“It is the opinion of the panel that the petition for Judicial Review is hereby granted and the full panel shall precede with the proceedings from this stage onward,” they further noted in their decision.
They added, “Chief Judge Eva Mappy Morgan, who previously heard the case, did not sign the ruling.”
In that request, MOTC was asking the court to compel the Ducor Petroleum to make proper accounting of US$56 million worth of petroleum products allegedly supplied to it.
It was based on her handling of the matter that Brosius’ lawyers filed a request for “Judicial Review” to the full bench.
Also in their motion, Brosius’ legal team contended that the presiding judge erred by hearing the matter alone, when the amount of the claim was US$8 million, which is over the threshold of US$1million required for the three–judge panel to convene as contained in ArticlesV(2) of the Commercial Court Act.