Government to Challenge the Jurisdiction of the ICC – Minister of Justice Maintains

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By Ranger

In a statement dated 16th February, 2021 by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Y. Brewah, in response to the English High Court Ruling between Sierra Leone Mining and the Republic of Sierra Leone, he stated that the Government of Sierra Leone is involved in ongoing arbitration proceedings regarding the termination of SL Mining’s largescale Mining Licence in October 2019, which took place after the discovery of repeated and dishonest breaches of SL Mining’s contractual and legal obligations under Sierra Leone law.

He continued that the Government had also applied to the English High Court to challenge the jurisdiction of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitral tribunal to hear SL Mining’s claims, on the specific and narrow basis of SL Mining’s failure to observe the 3-month waiting period set out in its Mining Licence Agreement (MLA) under the arbitration clause prior to the expiry of that term.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice furthered that had the Government’s application been successful, it would have brought the arbitration to an end immediately.

“It is that limited application which was dismissed by the English High Court in its judgment of 15 February 2021 (the “Judgment”) which has been misleadingly circulated as a ‘FINAL JUDGMENT’, the effect of which is simply that the arbitration will now proceed to a full hearing in March, 2021,” he stated.

He said as is entirely appropriate and commonplace in decisions on jurisdiction, the Judgment cannot and does not address the merits of the dispute between the parties in the arbitration, because the English Court was not and could not have been asked to resolve those issues.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice maintained that the Government remains of the view that it has strong arguments and evidence of breaches that were committed and also a very strong case supported by evidence of CORRUPTION AND BRIBERY (as stated in the judgment supra) to support its case in the ongoing ICC arbitration that SL Mining’s licence was properly and validly terminated.

He concluded that it is, however, not appropriate for the Government to comment further on the details of the ongoing arbitration proceedings at this time because of confidentiality.

(C) The Calabash Newspaper