US$10.7M Vehicle Debt Ruling Undecided

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After a year of deliberations, the Commercial Court cannot make a determination as to whether it has jurisdiction over a US$10.7 million vehicle debt case against the government, despite the conclusion of final legal arguments.

The case was filed in 2010 against the Liberian government by the management of Prestige Motors, owned by Lebanese businessman George Haddad.

State lawyers asked the court to dismiss it because it lacked jurisdiction to handle the matter.

The act that established the Commercial Court, in Article six (6) (a), gives said court the power to adjudicate all commercial matters within its jurisdiction.

But government lawyers claimed that the establishment of the court in 2010 suggested that it is barred from handling matters that predated its establishment.

Lawyers for Prestige Motors said the law gave the court the authority to hear matters that occurred prior to its establishment.

It was that argument that the three judge panel in February 2015 listened to and subsequently reserved ruling to establish its authenticity up to the present.

In his lawsuit, Haddad’s lawyers alleged that from 2003 up to 2006 both late Interim President Charles G. Bryant’s administration and that of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf credited a fleet of cars from his company, services they are yet to pay for.

The lawsuit further alleged that Haddad’s company also provided services and spare parts to the government.

In counter argument, state lawyers admitted owing the company but argued that the Commercial Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to handle the case.

They did not say which court under the law is qualified to handle the matter.

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