Virgin Islands court puts off Reko Diq case hearing till 18th

High Court of Justice in BVI adjourns hearing relating to enforcement of half of $6 bn award in Reko Diq case


Hasnaat Malik January 08, 2021
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The High Court of Justice in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has adjourned hearing relating to enforcement of half of the $6 billion award in the Reko Diq case against Pakistan until January 18.

Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) on November 20, last year had sought attachment of assets for enforcement of the $6 billion award that the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) slapped on Pakistan on July 12, 2019, for revoking the TTC mining contract at Reko Diq in Balochistan.

The Express Tribune has learnt that the BVI high court chief justice on Thursday conducted a brief hearing wherein the judge asked about the service of notice to the parties and fixed the matter for January 18.

Additional Attorney General for Pakistan & Head of International Disputes Unit Ahmed Irfan represented Pakistan before the court. The Pakistan International Airline (PIA) engaged its own legal team in the case. Likewise, all offshore companies, two registered PIA hotels hired their separate counsels and all were present during Thursday’s hearing.

BVI High Court Justice Gerhard Wallbank, while passing the order on December 10, 2020, had attached certain assets of PIA.

It is learnt that the court attached the assets belonging to Pakistan International Airlines Investment Limited (PIAIL), including the company’s interests in two hotels -- Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, New York, and Scribe Hotel in Central Paris. In view of the injunction, PIA cannot sale any of these hotels.

However, it was mentioned in the December 10 order that the attachment order shall be expired on January 8 unless continued by further order of the court.

Sources revealed to The Express Tribune that the attachment order has been extended until January 18.

It is learnt that Pakistan will raise the issue of maintainability of the case first. At the same time, it will question the jurisdictional issue as how the court had passed an ex parte attachment order.

There are eight respondents to the case -- Pakistan, Pakistan International Airways Corporation, PIA, Minhal Incorporated, PIA Hotels Limited, Virgin Islands Registrar of Companies, CITCO and Harneys Corporate Service.

The ICSID stayed the enforcement of the $6b award and on September 17 and issued a 70-page order which said the stay shall continue on a conditional basis.

The arbitrator ordered Pakistan to provide an “unconditional and irrevocable” bank guarantee or the letter of credit (LC) for 25 per cent of the award, plus accrued interest as of the date of the decision.

The guarantee or the LC was to come from a reputable international bank based outside of Pakistan, which was pledged in favour of the claimant -- the TCC -- and to be released on the order of the ICSID.

The ICSID also held that if Pakistan could not furnish the security and undertaking in terms as set out within 30 days after notification of the decision, the stay of enforcement in the amount of 50 per cent of the award, plus accrued interest as of the date of the decision would be lifted.

However, Pakistan missed the deadline and did not deposit 25 per cent bank guarantee.

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