The management of Prestige and Alliance Motor Incorporated has announced plans to lay off 100 of its employees due to the continued delay on the part of the Commercial Court to rule in its US$10.7 million vehicles debt case.
The company is one of the leading dealers of vehicles and spare parts in the country. It is owned by Lebanese businessman George Haddad.
“This court was mainly established to hear commercial cases and decide them speedily, but see what is going on with us going against the government,” Prestige Motor management wondered, adding, “What is happening especially in the justice system indicates that a foreign investor cannot get justice in this country.”
“This situation has the propensity to scare foreign business people because the delay shows that there is no judicial security for the foreign businesses,” said Prestige Motor management.
The management noted that in every country, justice is there for all irrespective of one’s status, “and therefore, the judiciary should be a place to seek redress, but look at our case, what is happening?” the Prestige management asked.
The situation, the management claims, has created serious financial problems for the company to the extent that it cannot continue to retain all of its employees.
“We just have to lay off some of our staff,” the company stated.
“You cannot be going through this problem and expect that we would maintain our entire workforce. Where do we get the money to pay them if a government owes you US$10.7 million and does not want to pay? While on the other hand, the court is reluctant to give you justice? The only option is to redundant some employees as waiting for the court to give you justice, this is what we have resolved to do.”
The Commercial Court for the past one year has not handed down a definite decision as to whether or not it has jurisdiction to handle the matter, which government lawyers argue that it does not.
Prosecutors argue that the court does not have jurisdiction on grounds that it was established in 2010, and by law it does not have any legal basis to hear cases existing prior to its establishment.
On the contrary, the company lawyers contend that the court has jurisdiction to handle the matter.
The court has on several occasions scheduled a ruling into the matter, but has repeatedly failed to do so.
The latest delay was in February when the matter was scheduled for hearing but one of the judges on the three judge panel failed to turn up for the hearing as scheduled.
Prestige Motor in early 2015 filed an Action of Debt against the Government of Liberia claiming US$10.7 million owed by GOL for vehicles and spare parts it procured from the company.