The Supreme Court of Norway has, in a unanimous preliminary determination by a panel of three, refused to grant leave to appeal to Jongsbru AS, party to a judgment of the Norway Court of Appeal previously given in favour of the government of Ghana on November 2, 2022.
The decision by the Norway Supreme Court refusing the grant of leave to appeal, under Norwegian 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.
It completely brings an end to the litigation over the purchase of a property previously identified by the Republic of Ghana for use as a chancery building in Oslo.
By this latest decision from the Supreme Court of Norway, 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 with a total of NOK 2,500,000 ($250,000) – is final.
The Norway Supreme Court’s determination of Jongsbru’s attempt to appeal the judgment was made without the parties appearing before the court.
Given the summary determination of this appeal by the Supreme Court, the court further ordered Jongsbru to compensate Ghana nominal legal costs before the Supreme Court for NOK 18 750 ($1,871).
This is a fixed rate applied in such summary proceedings before the Supreme Court of Norway.
Ghana’s Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, expressed utmost satisfaction with the decision of the Norway Supreme Court not to allow the appeal against the judgement of the Court of Appeal.
Mr Dame expressed greater delight after 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.
He 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.
This involves 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.
Following the dismissal by the Court of Appeal of Jongsbru’s earlier appeal filed by Jongsbru, Mr Dame 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”.
An application for a judgment to be repealed, in Norwegian law, is similar to a request to set aside the judgment.