Jaffa versus Leon Oil
The Matter between Jaffer Zeghir of 36B Bai Bureh Road in Freetown and Leon Oil Company went into a full-blown hearing at the High Court on Monday 26th April 2021, where the Lead Counsel for the Plaintiff/Applicant, Hindolo M. Gevao Esq. addressed the court on their affidavit in support of the matter that was submitted in court.
The Affidavit, which was signed by Lawyer JJ Campbell and dated 24th March 2021, with ten exhibits attached, including receipts and delivery notes, a letter dated 5th February 2021, reply to the said letter dated 9th February 2021, a letter dated 10th February 2021, a letter dated 16th February 2021, writ of summons instituting the action, a letter authored by the Petroleum Regulatory Authority (PRA) dated 15th February 2021, a memorandum and notice of appearance, an undertaking filed by the Defendant/Respondent, etc.
Lawyer Gevao said he relied on the entirety of the affidavit submitted, with specific emphasis on paragraphs 2 to paragraph 12.
It is the argument of the plaintiff/applicant that by paying for 200,000 litres of fuel product to the defendant and the defendant by receiving and issuing receipts, the latter being an acknowledgment of consideration for the petroleum product paid for by the plaintiff, both parties entered into a contractually binding agreement.
He added that the entire ingredient necessary for a legally binding agreement has been complied with by both parties, including offer, acceptance, and consideration.
“The defendant refused to supply the fuel product, having received payment for the fuel product, is a glaring breach of contract,” he submitted, and furthered that the defendant’s attempt to refund the consideration for the product because the price of the product has increased after the conclusion of the contract, is in itself a breach.
“They accepted that indeed there was a contract, but being that the price of fuel went up my client should pay an added sum, which is a breach,” the lawyer told the court and further submitted that both parties had agreed already.
He quoted one of PRA exhibits, which ordered the defendant to comply with the original agreement.
The said letter dated 15th February 2021 ordered that “…consistent with Part (111) Section 12 (2n) which empowers the Agency to perform the role of arbitrator in matters relating to 4the downstream petroleum industry; the position of the Agency is that all invoices be settled at their invoice prices on its corresponding value date before 4th February 2021 new price announcement. All Government taxes, during this period, must be charged as per the pricing template corresponding to the invoice dates.”
“The defendant did not deny there is a legally binding agreement. There is no point for bringing in the NRA as stated in the affidavit in opposition, as also stated in their defense,” Lawyer Gevao remarked.
He submitted that the regulatory authority had clarified the issue of tax that the role of NRA with regards waiver or non-waiver of taxes comes in as at the date of the increase and issuance of receipt.
“It was a simple and straightforward contract of an offer, acceptance with consideration to pay,” he said.
In Paragraph (4) (10) of the defence’s written submission filed with an affidavit in opposition, they stated that it is a normal practice that when prices change customers who had transacted with them pay the new rate.
In response to the above, the Applicant’s Lawyer pointed out that the defence has not exhibited a policy and should provide evidence showing that this has been normal.
“We have come before this honourable court under order 16, rule 11 of the High Court Rules of 2007, asking the court to grant us orders as prayed for on the face of the application. Because by the very admission, the defendant had stated that the company is willing and ready to supply the plaintiff the 200,000 litres of fuel purchased from them, but which up to date they have refused to supply the plaintiff, which amounts to a sham,” he stated and implored the court to grant judgment.
“We want justice to be done, as it is a glaring case of a breach of contract, quoting Order 16 of the High Court Rules, for which he said, is to prevent people from derailing the course of justice,” Gevao told the court.
Justice S.O. Taylor adjourned the matter for Wednesday 28th April 2021, when the Defence Team is expected to make its submission.