A legal argument proffered by the Groupe Ndoum Bank (GN Bank) Liberia Limited, owned by the Ghana Growth Fund Company, that the bank should not be held responsible for the alleged burglary at the Young Philip Business Center, in Ganta, Nimba County, from which the enterprise sustained serious loses, has been rejected by the Civil Law Court 'A' in Monrovia.
In the wake of the burglary, Young Philip Business Center is seeking US$272,849 and L$7,651,975, including US$250,000 as general and punitive damages against the bank, because the burglary occurred after the Commercial Court had already placed the business center in the possession of the bank, due to the Young Philip Business Center's failure to settle its obligation in the amount of US$15,000 .
During that period, in which the bank was placed in possession of all assets of the business center, it was by virtue of that fact, charged with responsibility for security of the facility.
It was in view of this, the bank on May 21, 2018, also hired the services of the Alarm Response Security Guard Service to provide the requisite security protection for the business center. On July 13, 2018 it was discovered that the business center had been burglarized. However the Bank has since maintained that the security firm should be held responsible for the loss sustained.
Rejecting the bank's argument, Judge Yussif D. Kaba said, "This court, therefore, does not see how the bank can absolve itself of responsibility in a situation as narrated by the pleadings of the parties."
Kaba explained if it was established that Young Philip Business Center had assets and those assets were entrusted to the bank and also the bank contracted another institution to protect the assets," and those assets got destroyed due to the negligence of the security firm hired by the bank, then, of course, the right of damages by Young Philip Business Center for injuries sustained as a consequences, therefore, lie squarely with the bank," Kaba declared.
Immediately, after denying the bank's argument, Kaba ruled the matter to trial, meaning that he was going to hear the merit and demerit of the case, which the bank had resisted.
"Having determined the legal issues, the court hereby order this matter ruled to trial on the factual issues identified," Judge Kaba further declared.
As regards the bank's contention that they should not be held liable because the security firm was what they referred to as "independent contractor," Judge Kaba declared, "And that by independent contractor the security firm was personally liable for wrong that are committed under their watch, and therefore, such wrong cannot be transferred to a third party," the Judge clarified.
On the issue of Young Philip Business center, the Civil Law Court judge said, the business center has nothing to do with the contract with the security firm.
The relationship of this business center to the security firm was the obligation conferred upon the bank by the Commercial Court to provide protection for the assets of the center, Judge Kaba added.
"If the bank elects to contract with a third party any injury that occurs as a result of the breach that obligation falls squarely upon the lap of the bank," Kaba added," The private contractor being as they are fully responsible for their obligation and that it must be determined between the bank and the private contractor and not Young Philip Business Center who was not a party to the contract hiring the services of that private contractor."
The case grew when Young Philip Business Center filed an "Action of Damages for Wrong" suit, dated January 3, 2019. The business, through its lawyer Arthur Johnson, claimed that on December 6, 2016, it secured US$15,000 as overdraft from the bank.
"And, they have been paying their obligation as stipulated and, sometime during the course of the 2017 general elections, they defaulted on two payments under the term, which circumstances they communicated with the bank, and also recommended to the liquidation of said financial obligation.
"By then," the suit claimed, "Young Philip Business Center had made substantial payment against its financial obligation in the amount of US$9,500, inclusive of interest to be paid over time.
"But, GN Bank, being unreasonable, proceeded to the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice, where it filed an 'Action of Debt by Attachment', which eventually led to the closure of the business center," the lawyer said.
Shortly afterward, the bank was placed in possession of all assets of the business center for the prime purpose of providing security protection to its facility.
The suit further alleged that in the face of the closure, the bank on May 21, 2018, also hired the services of the Alarm Response Security Guard Service to provide the security protection for the business center.
Against that backdrop, the lawsuit claimed that on July 13, 2018, they discovered that the business was burglarized and, as a result, they subsequently informed the very Commercial Court to authorize the opening of the business center with the presence of officers from the Liberia National Police (LNP) for the purpose of assessing the extent of the burglary with respect to property loss.