Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

20 July 2014

Ethiopia: Yonas Vs Orchid Case Hits New Wall With Supreme Court Suspension

Supreme Court suspended on July 10, 2014, the 42 million Br ruling in the Yonas Kassahun - Orchid case, following an appeal against it, filed by Orchid Business Group Plc.

This is a case that started on November 5, 2013, when Yonas, who says he has a catering business in Germany, filed a suit claiming for a payment of 42 million Br from Orchid for services he rendered to the latter in South Sudan in relation to the celebration of the country's Independence Day Anniversary, in 2011.

After the High Court's ruling in his favour, Yonas had the court decide to divert to him rental fees Salini Construction was to make to Orchid for use of its machinery at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Orchid had that decision reverted by appealing to the sixth civil bench of the Court, leading to another appeal from Yonas to the vice president but, Orchid goes with reversal request to the president. Before the president could decide, however, Orchid took the case to the Supreme Court.

The appellate letter to the Supreme Court claims the lower court ruled in favour of Yonas without receiving and considering the weight of evidences and arguments it presented in its statement of defense.

Orchid, owned by Akiko Seyoum, is a family of companies engaged in road construction, the supply of construction materials, rental services of construction machinery and transportation.

Yonas claims that he had received a document confirming that he would get his payment in six months not from Orchid itself but from a company in Dubai, Sheldon International General Trading. One of the evidences Yonas presented included a payment agreement that was signed by Engida Workneh, deputy general manger of Orchid.

Orchid, nevertheless, denied not only having any deal with Yonas for the South Sudan celebration, but also that Sheldon is a sister company. Orchid's defense added that the plaintiff did not present any bank documents or pro forma invoices for the purchase of the items, and that the payment agreement signed by Engida could not represent the Company, adding also that the document was falsified.

This litigation, which seemed to end in favour of Yonas, met its challenge at the implementation, and now comes open to debate at the Supreme Court, following the decision of judges Desta Gebru, Adane Nigussie and Mekonnen Gebrehiwot, that the defendant has a case that it could appeal and suspended the High Court's ruling on July 10, 2014. The two are scheduled to debate their case on August 5, 2014.

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