The Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice presided over by Judge Eva Mappy Morgan has indefinitely ‘shelved’ the US$10.7 million debt case filed against the Liberian Government by a local auto dealer.
The Alliance and Prestige Motors, representing an American and German auto dealer in Monrovia filed an action of debt against the Liberian Government in 2014, for failing to pay for vehicles and spare parts supplied government in 2003 and up to March 2008.
In November 2015, following legal arguments between state and the companies’ lawyers on whether or not the court had jurisdiction over the matter, the Commercial Court ruled the debt case to trial.
Last month, the court ordered an assignment for hearing on November 21, 2017, but failed, and a subsequent assignment on December 1, 2017, also failed.
A court official later announced that lawyers will be informed on the new date for hearing.
The Commercial Court, established 2011 by the National Legislature, is a specialized court to litigate cases arising of commercial transactions, since the Debt Court is restricted in its scope of jurisdiction.
The debt case has generated huge interest in the international community, especially among the German and American companies that supplied the vehicles and spare parts to the Alliance Motor and Prestige Motor in Monrovia.
The Liberian Government has not denied the debt claim, and has since been in negotiations with authorities of the companies on payment terms, but has yielded no results.
An official of the Ministry of Finance, Planning & Development said a payment stipulation was agreed, but government has yet to live up to its term.
Alliance and Prestige Motors are owned and managed by Lebanese businessman George E. Haddad.
Companies’ authorities are increasingly worried over the independent of the Liberian judiciary in dispensing justice considering the protracted impediment in adjudicating this US$10.7 million debt case.
A visiting western diplomat and lawyer said “it is a bad signal for investors to seem not to trust a country’s judiciary in seeking redress to action growing out of commercial transaction.”
He hopes the delay is not a deliberate attempt to baffle justice.
The visiting envoy and lawyer who preferred anonymity said “such delay is dangerous and financial consequences would be grave, should an alternative action be taken to seek legal redress in foreign jurisdiction,” which he said, “is under consideration.”