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Court throws out IFC, OPEC Fund motion

The Commercial Division of an Accra High Court has dismissed an application by International Finance Corporation (IFC) and OPEC to stay proceedings in the suit brought against them by a Ghanaian company, Quantum Oil Terminals Limited, for the matter to be referred to arbitration in London.

The Commercial High Court 1, presided over by His Lordship Justice Samuel Asiedu, awarded a cost of GH₵12,000 against IFC and OPEC Fund to be paid to indigenous Ghanaian company Quantum Oil.

In the hotly-contested motion, counsel for the applicants had argued that the governing loans agreement between the parties had an arbitration clause for all disputes and those of related agreements to be resolved at the London Court for International Arbitration.

The parties had signed two main loans agreements, a debenture and four securities agreement.

In his counter argument, counsel for the respondent held a different view. He argued that in the loans agreements, the parties qualified the related agreements whose disputes were arbitrable were non-contractual related disputes.

He clarified that once the parties thereafter executed those five separate securities agreements and made specific provisions that disputes on those five other agreements were subject to Ghana law and only a High Court in Ghana had jurisdiction to determine such disputes, the dispute before the court were not caught by the arbitration clause.

Counsel for IFC and OFID argued that since all the other agreements related to the loans agreement and were not stand-alone agreements, it was proper for the court to restrain the Ghanaian company and compel it to send its claims for determination at the London Court of International Arbitration

He further argued that once his client was also claiming damages for racism and discrimination against those Bretton Woods institutions, the London Court for International Arbitration lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine such claims.

He concluded that the insistence by IFC and OFID to refer the matter to arbitration in London was oppressive and a ploy to use the high cost involved in such arbitration as a barrier in his client's way to seeking justice and urge the court to dismiss the application by IFC and OFID.

After hearing both arguments on 23rd June 2017, the trial judge, His Lordship Justice Samuel Asiedu, yesterday dismissed the application by IFC and OFID.

He ruled that from the evidence brought before him by the parties, the High Court in Ghana had jurisdiction to hear the case and that was the agreement the parties themselves had signed.

He awarded costs against the IFC and OFID.

Mr. Joseph Konadu, appearing with Mr. Adu Tutu, all from ENSafrica Law Firm, represented the IFC and OFID while Mr. Alex K. Osei-Owusu with Ms. Shirley Mawuli Armah, appeared for Quantum Oil Terminals.

Quantum Oil Terminals sued IFC and the OPEC Fund for International Development for damages, totaling $41.3 million ($41,319,123) as damages for alleged breach of contract.

Source: The Finder