Saturday 17 March 2018

High Court grounds aircraft from Democratic Republic of Congo in Dublin over €10m dispute

High Court grounds aircraft from Democratic Republic of Congo in Dublin over €10m dispute
High Court grounds aircraft from Democratic Republic of Congo in Dublin over €10m dispute

Aodhan O'Faolain & Ray Managh

The High Court has grounded an aircraft allegedly owned by a state owned airline of the Democratic Republic of Congo from leaving Dublin Airport in a dispute over an unpaid debt of €10m.

The interim injunction prevents both the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the airline the operates the aircraft, an Airbus A320 currently undergoing works in Dublin, La Société Congo Airlines, from moving, operating or otherwise interfering with the aircraft without their consent. 

The injunction also prohibits the aircraft's removal from the jurisdiction. The interim injunction was granted, on an ex-parte basis where only one side was present in court, by Mr Justice John Hedigan.

The order was sought by a US company Miminco LLC and two American citizens Mr John Dormer Tyson and Mr Ilunga Jean Mukendi who the court heard are owed some US$11.5m (€10.1m) by the Congolese government.

Represented by barristers Brian O'Moore SC and Stephen Byrne Bl, the US parties say they got into a dispute with the DRC in relation to the ownership of two diamond mines they purchased in the African nation.

Following an arbitration process in 2007, in which both parties had engaged in, counsel said his clients were awarded some US$13m.

However Counsel said since then his clients have only been paid approximately US$1.5m of what is owed to them.

Last Wednesday counsel said his clients became aware the aircraft, which is part of a new national airline for the DRC, was undergoing works at a hanger in Dublin airport.  Counsel said the airline is owned and funded by the DRC's government, and is therefore an asset of the state.

The Airbus A320, he said had been acquired from an Italian airline.  A second A320 had been undergoing works at Dublin airport, but left in late July, counsel said.

Counsel said his clients were anxious to secure the injunction before the aircraft "flew the coup." In time it is proposed that a receiver will be appointed over the aircraft which will be sold to pay off the debt owed to his clients.

Both the Dublin airport Authority and the company carrying out the works on the aircraft Eirtech Aviation Ltd are notice parties to the action. 

After granting the order the judge adjourned the matter to a date in early September.

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