In the wake of the seemingly unending controversy over the $1.5 billion Galloper vehicles saga, the State is said to have abandoned - that has been given a lot of propaganda touch by government spin doctors - The New Crusading GUIDE has come across a Supreme Court ruling which indicates that Africa Automobile Limited had made frantic efforts to implicate the Government in another purported deal regarding a credit facility.
Africa Automobile Limited filed a court suit on 31 January, 2008 averring that by a letter dated 27 January, 1997, it had accepted the Ministry of Information's request for a credit facility and entered into an agreement with the government regarding the sale and servicing of vehicles by it (Africa Automobile).
At the Commercial Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Her Ladyship Justice Torkornoo, the company was floored as the learned judge found out that there was no validly binding agreement between Africa Automobile and the government.
Dissatisfied, the company appealed against the ruling. After several appeals, the case went to the Supreme Court for a final determination.
Having gone through the merits of the case, the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Date-Baah on June 6, 2012, upheld the ruling by the High Court which stated, “Before judgment could be given, the Attorney-General's representative reappeared and said that the State wished to submit to judgment in the sum of 14,174,693.12 Ghana cedis being what was entered as default judgment. My understanding of my role as a judge is that I am required to give judgment on the evidence laid before me and not as directed by the parties. I have a duty to implement the ethic of competence, which requires adjudication based on evaluation of evidence. Instead of entering judgment as submitted by the State, I have chosen to examine the evidence and give my judgment based on the evidence.”
Touching on what were tendered in evidence as constituting a contract agreement being claimed by Africa Automobile Ltd. (Exhibits 'A' and 'B'), the Supreme Court referred to the ruling of Justice Appau of the Court of Appeal thus, “The names of the Ag. Chief Director and the Deputy (with their alleged specimen signatures) were merely inserted in the letter as persons who would sign for and on behalf of the 1st defendant/respondent without indicating who the author of the letter was. On the face, Exhibit 'B' appears fake and unauthentic. I cannot therefore fathom how the Attorney-General's office could gloss over the serious effects in Exhibit 'B' and commit the State to the payment of the whopping sum of over 14 million Ghana cedis on mere maintenance and servicing of 1st defendant/respondent vehicles when on the evidence, plaintiff was not entitled to that sum.” It therefore upheld this ruling.
Exhibit 'A' was a letter from the automobile company that spelt out the interest rate on the outstanding amount at the end of each month (3%); loss of use of the outstanding amount (4%) and bank and other expenses (0.5%).
The Ministry of Information (government) was supposed to sign, date and stamp a copy of the letter; but this was never done, and yet Africa Automobile termed it a contract – which was Exhibit 'B'.
According to the Supreme Court, “The evidence shows that the Ministry never signed, dated and stamped a copy of Exhibit 'A'. Rather, the evidence given of its alleged acceptance of the plaintiff's offer of credit terms was in the shape of Exhibit 'B'. On these facts, the learned trial High Court judge held that no contract had been established on the credit terms alleged to be binding on the defendant,”
The Court continued, “My understanding of the plaintiff's witness's evidence is that the sum presented to this court was calculated from the terms outlined in Exhibit 'A'. But a cursory look at Exhibit 'A' shows that it is a letter communicating a unilateral decision on how bills to customers would be calculated and requesting that acceptance of the terms should be indicated by signing, dating and stamping a copy of the same letter. No such copy of the same letter signed, dated and stamped was presented showing acceptance of the terms urged on me as indicating a contract”
The earlier trial judge at the High Court had established that “the defendant had used the plaintiff's services between January 1994 and November 1998 and incurred a bill of 19,406,371 cedis. Some payments had been made, leaving a balance of 15,636,482.00 cedis as at15 April, 1999.”
Making reference to this finding by the lower court which was presided over by Her Ladyship Justice Torkornoo, the Supreme Court underscored, “Since there was no evidence of payment of that debt, she ordered defendant to pay the outstanding debt of 1,563.64 Ghana cedis with interest on it at the prevailing commercial banking interest rate from April 1999 to date of final payment.”