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Supreme Court quizzes Vodafone officer over absence of counsel

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The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday quizzed a paralegal officer of Vodafone Ghana, Maame Asomaniwaa, as whether or not there were only two lawyers attending court for the company.

Asomaniwaa had brought a letter to the SC that counsel handling matter for the company was ill and as such was unable to appear before it.

When the court asked whether the lawyer assigned to the case was the only legal officer at the Legal Department of the company, she said “the other one has travelled to Wa”.

Vodafone has gone to the SC with a motion on notice to stay proceeding pending the determination of a civil suit between it and International Rom Limited (IRL) on breach of contract over installation of Telecommunication mast.

The SC was to hear the said motion but after Mr Foster Bonney, counsel for IRL and Mr Barima Manu, counsel for Fidelity Bank, had announced themselves, a five-member panel noted that Counsel for Vodafone Ghana had written a letter saying that he was sick.

The court, which did not take kindly to the conduct of Vodafone’s Counsel, ordered Vodafone to pay GH¢1,000 cost each to IRL and Fidelity Bank Limited and adjourned the matter sine die.

In an affidavit in support of the motion made by Maame Asomaniwaa, Vodafone Ghana (erstwhile Ghana Telecom) said it contracted IRL to provide and install its telecommunication masts.

Vodafone Ghana in December 2003 signed a contract with a company registered in Port Louis, Mauritius, known as IRL. On May 13, 2008, Vodafone signed a new and separate contract with IRL.

Vodafone said IRL breached the terms of contract and therefore it wrote to IRL complaining of delay in the work and it therefore terminated the contract.

IRL then proceeded to the court and during the trial technical issues concerning the quantum and cost of works carried out and the actual amount of money paid to IRL came up.

Vodafone therefore made an order for the appointment of independent accountant to go into account of IRL and Vodafone Ghana to ascertain the actual quantum of work done by IRL and payment made by Vodafone.

The application for the appointment of independent accountant was heard and dismissed by the trial judge at the Commercial Court hence Vodafone filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal and same was dismissed on January 10, this year.

Vodafone Ghana therefore proceeded to the Supreme Court saying there was special circumstance that the matter should be heard.

“The trial judge’s decision to close first defendant (Vodafone) case after notice to call a witness, the first defendant’s former Chief Financial Officer, who was alleged to have written a letter acknowledging a debt of more than $9 million, and who is now resident in Norway, constitutes a special circumstance for stay.”

According to Vodafone, IRL having admitted and submitted documents to show that the contract between IRL and Vodafone covered only 41 sites, but tendered documents to claim proceeds in respect of 190 sites raised special circumstance for the stay of proceeding.

The Supreme Court panel is made up of Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo (presided), Mr Justice S.A Brobbey, Justice Sule Gbedegbe, Justice Anin Yeboah and Justice B.T Aryeetey.

Source: GNA

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