The Government of Liberia’s appeal to turn over the judgment of the Civil Law Court against the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy was on Friday, January 10, denied by the Supreme Court.
Giving the Higher Court’s opinion on the appeal, Associate Justice Philip A. Z. Banks declared that the “Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to send a mandate to the lower court to resume jurisdiction over the case and to reinforce the judgment of this lower court in accordance with the law. Costs of these proceedings are disallowed. And it is hereby so ordered.”
The Civil Law Court in 2012 granted a motion protesting against the termination of a mineral exploration agreement and revoking of mining licenses of Mr. Leonard Lindstrom, a Canadian Investor, by the Ministry.
Mr. Lindstrom is the owner of the Liberty Group of Companies which comprises of six other mining companies including; Liberty Gold and Diamond Mining Company, T. Rex Resources Inc, G -10 Exploration Inc, Golden Ventures Inc. Magma Mineral Resources and Craton Development.
He is the author of the book Title “Corruption 101, Liberia Style.”
In that ruling the Civil Law Court declared that the “act of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy is hereby declared illegal, irregular, improper, unlawful and the termination of Mr. Lindstrom’s licenses are hereby ordered reinstated.”
It further stated, “With official extension for at least four years the current date with all rights and privileges appertaining thereto, and it is hereby so ordered.”
That judgment was seriously rejected by the Ministry which announced an appeal to the Higher Court.
Giving justification of the Higher Court’s denial, Justice Banks explained that “nowhere in any of the letters of termination, did the Acting Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy inform the licensees, Mr. Lindstrom’s companies, that they had the right to contest the termination of the mineral exploration agreement or the license held by them within thirty (30) days of the date of the letter of termination.”
Justice Banks clarified that the “net effect of this omission is that none of the companies were notified that they had the right to contest the termination.
Referring to the law, the Associate Justice noted “our law is clear on the issue. It is only upon such notice that the appellees (Mr. Lindstrom) would have been informed of the right to contest the termination.” He insisted “notice is the key component of our jurisdiction and it was not for the appellant (Ministry) to dispense with that critical requirement.”
He continued, “the appellant cannot make the argument that the appellees waived their right to contest the termination or to a hearing on the termination because they failed to contest the termination within thirty (30) days of the date of the notice of termination.”
“Therefore,” the Associate Justice noted “in that light, we reject the contention of the appellant that the appellees were accorded the due-process of law opportunity provided by the Constitution and the several provisions of our statures, as well as, the regulation, but chose to waive the right or that opportunity.”
Accordingly, Justice Banks stated, “we hold that as no right to a hearing was accorded the appellees and no right of due-process was waived by them, the trial judge was correct in holding that the appellees were denied their right to due- process of law.
And by that denial, the action of the appellant was rendered null and void and of no legal effect.”
He concluded, “The said act by the appellant in terminating the mineral exploration Agreement and the license held by the appellees is hereby reversed and the rights and license held by the appellees reinstated to last for the remaining period granted them.”
The case grew on October 25, 2010, when Mr. Lindstrom requested the court to enter into a declaratory judgment against the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, alleging among other things that his companies is a registered business entity in the Country and was granted licenses to operate under the laws of Liberia.
He further argued that the concession agreement between the two parties was also signed since 2004.
They further contended that despite the existence of the agreement, the respondent Ministry terminated its agreement.
According to him, after receiving the notice of termination of the agreement, he wrote the Ministry requesting for a hearing, which hearing was denied.
He contended that the Ministry’s action was contrary to the mining laws of Liberia, the agreement as well as the regulations promulgated by them on November 3, 2010, because his company does not owe government.
But, the Ministry on the other hand, argued that following reconciliation of vouchers and payment Mr. Lindstorm companies were actually indebted to government in the amount of US$280,000.
They further contended that Lindstrom only paid for Liberty Gold and Diamond Mining Company and G-10 Exploration, but failed to pay for the other three companies namely; T. Rex Resources Inc, Golden Ventures Inc. Magma Mineral Resources.
Besides, that the companies bills and payment were not made: and that even the two institutions named that they paid for, failed and refused to submit the work plan as required for those institutions.
It was based on these irregularities; the Ministry alleged that it took the decision to terminate Mr. Lindstorm’s mining exploration agreement and his companies’ licenses.