Norway Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Against Ghana

A three-member panel of the Supreme Court of Norway has in a unanimous preliminary decision refused to grant leave to Messrs. Jongsbru AS, to appeal a decision by the Norway Court of Appeal given in favour of the Government of Ghana.

The refusal by the Norwegian Supreme Court to grant leave for an appeal against the decision under the country’s civil procedure is final and not subject to review by the Supreme Court as fully constituted by a panel of five or by any court.

The Oslo Court of Appeal on November 2, 2022, in a unanimous decision dismissed a case filed against the Republic of Ghana by Messrs Jongsbru AS, the sellers of a property identified by Ghana for use as a chancery building in Oslo, Norway.

A three-member panel of the court dismissed the appeal filed in December 2021 against the judgment of the Oslo District Court (High Court) in its entirety and awarded damages and procedural costs in favour of Ghana.

The Supreme Court’s decision brings an end to the litigation over the purchase of the property as it upholds the earlier ruling by the Oslo Court of Appeal fully acquitting Ghana of Jongsbru’s claim and obligating Jongsbru to pay Ghana compensation for legal costs before the District (High) Court and the Court of Appeal amounting to a total of NOK2,500,000 (equivalent of $250,000).

The Norway Supreme Court’s determination of Jongsbru’s attempt to appeal the judgment was made without the parties appearing before the court.

The court, subsequent to its decision, further ordered Jongsbru to compensate Ghana with legal costs of NOK 18,750, which is equivalent to $1,871 which is a fixed rate applied in such summary proceedings before the court.

Ghana’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, expressed utmost satisfaction with the decision of the Norway Supreme Court not to allow the appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

He was delighted at the conclusion of this dispute in a foreign court which had raged on for the past four years, travelling the full length of the architecture of Superior Courts in Norway.

Mr. Dame indicated that all costs awarded in favour of Ghana still outstanding would be immediately paid by the losing party in accordance with Norwegian civil procedure to mitigate expenses incurred in defending the interests of Ghana across all the courts, which involved the travel of the Attorney General and witnesses from Ghana’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance for all the hearings in the other courts.

It would be recalled that following the dismissal by the Court of Appeal of Jongsbru’s earlier appeal filed by Jongsbru, Mr. Dame had explained that, under Norwegian civil procedure rules, any civil judgment of the Court of Appeal may be appealed to the Supreme Court but the hearing of that appeal is not as of right.

A panel of three Supreme Court judges had to first determine whether to allow the appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court and explicitly allow for same to be heard, before the Supreme Court would proceed to hear and give a judgment on it.

If the panel does not allow the appeal to be heard, the appeal terminates without any further processes at the Supreme Court.

The ground on which the Norwegian Supreme Court will hear an appeal is where a new or major issue of law is raised in the matter, and the court feels obligated to give legal clarity on the position.

The Norway Supreme Court does not hear an appeal on matters concerning the facts or evidence in a civil matter.

In this attempt to appeal, Jongsbru had contended that the reasoning by the Court of Appeal in its judgment was too short, vague, unclear and contained deficiencies which rendered a proper appeal on the merits impossible and therefore, the judgment had to be ‘repealed’, which is equivalent to a request to set aside the judgment in Ghana.

Credit: Daily Guide

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