Lawyers representing Lebanese businessman, George E. Haddad, seeking US$10.7M debt lawsuit against the Liberian Government, yesterday left the Commercial Court disappointed, after state lawyers argued that the court lacks jurisdiction to handle the matter.
The Sherman & Sherman law firm representing the legal interest of Haddad, in 2012 filed a lawsuit against the Liberian Government. The lawsuit contends that from the year 2000 to 2008, Mr. Haddad sold and repaired vehicles and also supplied spare parts amounting to U$10.7M to several government institutions. Unfortunately, government is yet to pay the debt, despite Mr. Haddad’s persistent negotiation.
They named some of the vehicles for which GOL owes Haddad as Cherokee, Land Rover Leon, among others.
Haddad is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Prestige Motor Corporation and Alliance Motor Corporation.
During yesterday’s hearing, government lawyer Cllr. Augustine Fayia asked the plaintiff to drop the case, claiming lack of jurisdiction. He did not deny that government owes Haddad.
Before Cllr. Fayia’s contention, the parties presented all their legal documentations and the court’s scheduled appointment of Monday, February 16, as the date to start the case.
Interestingly, while the court was in session, Cllr. Fayia asked for the dismissal of the entire matter on grounds of jurisdiction.
Justifying their argument, Cllr. Fayia said, “The Commercial Court was established in 2010, which means the law that created it prevents the court from hearing cases prior to its establishment.”
He further argued that, if the court continues with the matter, it would be a complete violation of the Constitution and the Act that created it.
He pleaded that the court should advise Haddad’s lawyers to file their complaint to the appropriate court, but he did not mention the name of the court.
In a counter argument, the Sherman and Sherman law firm maintained that the court has jurisdiction over the matter.
They argued that the Act that created the court gives it progressive authority, meaning it can hear cases that even existed before its establishment.
Haddad’s lawyers further argued that the government’s request was “unreasonable” because the court is a specialized court established with the intent to fast track matters relating to commercial transactions.
They also contended that the government lawyer’s argument was contrary to the Act that established the Commercial Court.
Immediately after the argument, the Resident Chief Judge, Eva Mappy Morgan declared that “Matter is suspended and it will resume following an issuance of a notice of assignment to the lawyers.”