The Supreme Court of Liberia has granted the petition to overturn a ruling to exclude some properties and to audit millions of United States dollars collected from the estate of the Late Milad R. Hage, instructing the Monthly and Probate Court of Montserrado County to retry the matter.
Initially, the lower court denied a motion to “Exclude Movants Properties from the Estate of the Late Milad R. Hage and to Order Audit of Mr. Bassam H. Jawhary Relating to the Estate” filed by Hage’s widow Oumou Sirleaf Hage, a Liberian and children against Jawhary, a Lebanese national.
However, reserving the lower court decision, the Supreme Court said there were several irregularities, errors, negligence and glaring misconduct committed in the interpretation of the Decedent Estate Law by the lower court.
In their judgment, the High Court further declared that “Oumou Sirleaf Hage, widow of late Milad Hage, and her children’s lawyers were negligent and careless and did not adequately and effectively represent their interest.”
“Accordingly,” the Highest Court added, “We believe that in order to serve the interest of transparent justice, equity demands that we remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings so that all of the parties are guaranteed full access to due process of law.”
“Notwithstanding,” the High Court maintained in the judgment though “Oumou’s lawyers’ failure to comply with the requirements of the stature to have the case heard on regular appeal, was due solely to the negligent conduct of her lawyers. Such failure under the circumstances of the case should not deprive her of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Liberia.”
The Supreme Court went ahead to instruct the Clerk of Court to order Judge Holder to resume jurisdiction over the matter by saying “Ordered Jawhary to submit to the court a comprehensive inventory of the Hage Estates assets, as well as liabilities as required by the Decedent Estate Law.”
Also, in the instruction, the Court mandated Mr.Jahwary to furnish a detailed statement on the status of the loan facility Hage has with the Ecobank and also audit Ecobank for the period in which proceeds of the estate were collected by the bank.
Before Hage’s death, the deceased obtained a loan (loans) from Ecobank in Monrovia, and pledged properties as collateral to secure and guarantee the rental proceeds from the properties at Red Light to the bank to retire the loans.
The High Court, among others, ordered Judge Holder to “Ensure that Bassam Jawhary establishes an account in the name of the Hage Estate if such account is not already established, into which all monies belonging to the Estate is deposited for the operation of this account shall be with the approval of the court.”
It further stated, “Investigate the allegations of malpractices alleged to have been committed by Bassam Jawhary in his handling of the properties of the Hage Estate, including the Estate funds.”
According to the order, Judge Holder is to revoke Jawhary’s letter of Testamentary in the event that the investigation conducted pursuant to the above revealed that he has engaged in misconduct and mismanagement of the affairs of the Estate.
“Determine whether or not the lease agreement executed by and between Oumou Sirleaf Hage and Milad R. Hage has expired in accordance with its terms and conditions, and in the event that said lease agreement is determined to have expired, return all properties covered by the lease agreement,” the order further instructed.
It also added, “Determine whether or not the properties covered by the lease agreement including properties owned by the children of Milad Hage and Oumou Hage, and if so render void the lease agreement by and between her and Milad Hage, in so far as it covers and relates to the properties owned by said children.”
The instruction went on to say, “Determine whether or not the conduct of Jawhary, as relates to Oumou Sirleaf Hage, constitutes a disavowal of the Last Will and Testament of Milad R. Hage, and if so, revoke his testamentary and remove him from his position as executor of the estate.”
“Determine whether or not the disharmony between Jawhary and Oumou and the children necessitate an immediate closure of the Hage estate,” adding, “Given that this has been pending for a long time without final determination, the Monthly and Probate Court of Montserrado County is mandated to give it first priority handling.”