In an Accra High Court yesterday, the GHc174 million lawsuit filed by the Ghana Growth Fund Company (GGFC) against Healthcare Network Limited (HNL) was adjourned once again. This time, the reason given was that the judge “has an emergency”.
This commercial case is now a few weeks away from staying two years in court. It appears to be another case where the defendants are using every technical trick known, good and bad to deny justice for the plaintiffs.
The suit was commenced by Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim issued at the Registry of High Court, Accra, Commercial Division dated 11th October, 2019.
Justice Shiela Minta is the presiding judge in the matter brought before the court. After failed efforts to get all the four (4) defendants to be served in the ordinary manner prescribed by the court rules, an application was brought before the court for substituted service, to enable plaintiffs serve the defendants by substitution, which application was granted.
All efforts through service of hearing notices to the defendants to attend pre-trial conference also proved futile, until the matter was referred to a trial court.
At the trial court, a motion on notice for judgment in default of appearance was first brought against the defendants. It was this application that forced the defendants to enter appearance through their solicitors.
Subsequent to this, the defendants with their lawyers engaged plaintiff’s lawyers and representatives in a meeting, in an attempt to reach some settlement.
However, after the said meeting in which the defendants’ state of indebtedness was clearly established to satisfaction, the defendants failed to demonstrate any good faith; and also to propose payment plan as the plaintiffs were made to believe.
This compelled a subsequent application for judgment in default of defence, as they did not have any defence to the suit. In the morning on 27th May, 2021, before the motion for judgment in default of defence was to be moved, counsel for defendants handed over a cheque of GHc 2,000,000.00 (Two Million Ghana Cedis) to Counsel for plaintiff. This paltry sum of GHc2,000,000.00 relative to defendants’ debt of GHc174,100,037.40 could not be used to influence plaintiffs’lawyers’ resolve to move the court to enter judgment in default of defence at all cost.
After vain efforts by counsel for defendants to persuade plaintiffs’ lawyers to oblige them last adjournment, the court by itself formed the opinion that in the light of the fact before it and the defendants’ gesture that had come to its attention, it would exercise discretion to oblige the defendants the last adjournment to enable them respond more favourably to plaintiff’s claim before the court.
Accordingly, the court granted a short adjournment beyond the maturity date of the cheque (4/06/21) to 14th June, 2021 to first ensure that the cheque will clear and also for defendants to show cause why the pending application for judgment in default of defence should not be granted on the next adjourned date.
To disbelief of the plaintiffs and their lawyers, even the little GHc2 million cheque failed to clear. The defendants had allegedly tricked the court and disrespected the office of Justice Shiela Minta. Observers are waiting to see the reaction of Justice Minta and the decisions she will make when this fact is presented in her court in July.