Renowned American law firm Jenner & Block has sued the Republic of Sierra Leone in Washington, D.C., federal court to recover more than USD 8 million in legal fees for defending the country in the U.S. courts from 2019.
In a complaint dated November 29, 2022, Jenner and Block stated that between December 2019 and October 2021, their firm represented the West African nation in different forums, defending the country against an Arbitration request filed by Gerald International Limited on October 18, 2019.
According to Reuters, Sierra Leone secured Jenner and Block in 2019 as the legal representative on an Investor-State case involving concessionaire Gerald International Ltd. Gerald international Ltd contends that the Sierra Leone Government took a series of unlawful measures against them, which led them to challenge an order that imposed an indefinite shipping prohibition on their mining agency, such that prevented them from exporting and selling Marampa ore.
Contrary to that, Sierra Leone claimed Gerald had breached their agreement to remove and sell iron ore from the Marampa mining site in Port Loko District.
Read the Full complaint here.
According to Jenner and Block, Sierra Leone has paid USD 3.6 million in legal fees for work between 2019 and 2021, leaving a debit balance of USD 8.1 million. Jenner stated that Sierra Leone initially agreed to pay more than an engagement letter initially set out.
“This lawsuit is unfortunate but necessary because, despite the acknowledged debt and efforts to pay it, the Republic has simply failed to act for over a year,” Jenner and Block said.
Jenner and Block’s law firm claimed that they successfully defended and saved the West African country from at least a loss of USD 1.8 billion and other monetary terms. The Law firm ensured that Sierra Leone versus the ore concessionaire case was resolved by settlement with no payment or loss by the country, even though the work turned out to be far more complex than either party initially contemplated.