14 November 2012

Ghana: Court Halts Hearing of Default Judgment On ARA Libertad

The Commercial Division of the Accra High Court had granted an application to adjourn an intended motion for judgment in default filed by lawyers of NML Capital Limited, a commercial creditor, against the Republic of Argentina over their debts that culminated in the seizure of its naval ship, ARA Libertad on the Ghanaian seas at the Tema Port.

The decision of the court yesterday, followed an application filed by counsel for the Republic of Argentina, Mr. Kizito Beyuo, requesting the court to suspend the hearing of the issue before it until the final determination of an appeal filed against the court's decision on the immunity of the naval ship file at the Court of Appeal.

The court, presided over by Justice Richard Adjei Frimpong, therefore, adjourned the case indefinitely, noting that the court is not simply bound by precedent but the circumstances of the case before it.

According to the court, the plaintiff would not lose when the adjournment is granted as they could be compensated unlike the applicant.

Arguing his case before the court, Mr. Beyuo noted that the court had ample discretion to adjourn any case before it judicially.

According to him, his client had filed an appeal before the court of Appeal challenging the High court's decision that the naval ship had no immunity from the court actions as the plaintiff applies to the court to grant it a default judgment in the case, which is on appeal.

He told the court that if his request was granted, the plaintiff would not suffer any loss; as he pleaded that the status quo be maintain until such a time that payment of the debt is due.

Meanwhile, counsel for NLM limited, Mr. Ace Annan Ankomah opposed the application, noting that the appeal before the Court of Appeal was only interlocutory and not permanent.

According to him, the actions taken by the defendants was aimed at scuttling the proceedings at the High Court, as the application for adjournment filed by the defendant had been couched in a manner to stay proceedings.

Mr. Ankomah He was, therefore, appealed to the court to dismiss the application of the defendant as not properly based in law in view of its disguised nature.

The 103-meter-long vessel is in the country to offer some navy training after it left Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires on June 2 with a reported total crew of 220, including 69 members of the Argentine Navy and 110 students.

NML Capital Limited was on December 18, 2006 granted a summary judgment by the US District Court for the recovery from Argentina, the principal amount of bonds valued at $284,184,632.30 with respect to 10. 25 per cent Global Bonds due July 21, 2030, plus interest thereon.

Consequently, on December 5, 2011, the UK High Court (QB) ordered the payment of the principal bond amount with interest by consent.

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