Ghana Wins Preliminary Ruling in Cassius Mining $300 Million Int'l Arbitration

An International Arbitration Tribunal has ruled on February 28, 2024, that the international arbitration instituted by Cassius Mining Company Limited against Ghana shall be conducted before a High Court in Ghana, and not London, United Kingdom.

Cassius Mining wanted the arbitration proceedings conducted in London, but the international arbitration tribunal ruled otherwise.

The court gave its decision on the preliminary issues argued by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, and lawyers of Cassius Mining, in December, last year.

Cassius Mining Limited has been fighting Ghana in various international arbitration forums since February 2023, seeking compensation amounting to about US$300 million over what it claims were breaches of contract and Ghana's mining laws when the GoG did not extend the term of the company's Prospecting Licence Agreement (PLA), which allowed it to prospect for gold.

The PLA was signed on December 28, 2016, a few days before the John Mahama administration handed power to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Mr Dame had contended thatthe High Court of Ghana retains supervisory jurisdiction over the multi-million-dollar arbitration between Cassius Mining Limited and the Government of Ghana.

The ruling means that the High Court can grant reliefs regarding the arbitration.

Also, any resulting award or "judgment debt" from the tribunal is subject to the laws of Ghana and can be set aside by the High Court under the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, 2010 (Act 798).

This is the first time since 2003, that an international arbitration tribunal has ruled that the High Court retains jurisdiction in an international arbitration to which the Government of Ghana is a party.

In the past, tribunals have determined that courts in the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Washington D.C. exercises such jurisdiction and can enforce processes for execution of any award by international tribunals. This has been very costly for the GoG with Ghana's assets seized in foreign courts and Ghana hiring foreign lawyers to seek remedies in those foreign courts.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has indicated that with the tribunal upholding its contention that the international arbitration was subject to the jurisdiction of Ghanaian courts, he intends to seek a determination of the constitutionality of the PLA using the power of the High Court to determine any question of law that arise during an arbitration proceeding.

Cassius has made various attempts to escape the High Court's supervisory jurisdiction. These attempts include arguing that the arbitration should be held under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands, that the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, 2010 (Act 798) should not apply to the arbitration, and that the High Court in London should have jurisdiction over the arbitration.

Mr Dame has resisted Cassius' forum shopping attempts. The latest ruling from the international arbitration tribunal comes after multiple rounds of written submissions and an oral hearing held on December 4, 2023, at which the Attorney-General personally conducted Ghana's defence.

Cassius Mining was represented by both an international law firm, Quinn, Emanuel, Uquhart and Sullivan and a Ghanaian law firm ENS Africa.

It would be recalled that the High Court in July, 2023, issued an injunction restraining the international arbitration from proceeding which Cassius contemptuously ignored.

This ruling by the international arbitration tribunal, however affirms the jurisdiction of Ghana's High Court.

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