After an in-person hearing in New York, Mike Ehrenstein of Ehrenstein|Sager successfully persuaded the U.S. Court to respect the Angolan forum, overcoming arguments that Angola is inadequate because the nation is plagued by corruption and its legal system affords no due process. In its ruling dismissing the case, the Court flatly rejected the corruption and rule of law challenges, concluding:
The Court finds that Plaintiff’s vague concerns about “corruption” in Angola and lack of “due process” in Angolan courts do little to show that Angola lacks procedural safeguards or is an inadequate forum…The Court thus concludes that Angola offers an adequate alternative forum for Plaintiffs to pursue these claims.
Background: On May 7, 2020, Aenergy, an Angolan power company, sued the Republic of Angola in the federal court in New York seeking $1.1 Billion in damages for Angola’s alleged wrongful termination of 13 contracts to construct and maintain power plants in Angola. The Angolan defendants, represented by U.S. lawyer Mike Ehrenstein of Ehrenstein|Sager, moved to dismiss the complaint arguing that the case could only be arbitrated or litigated in Angola as required by parties’ contracts.
Why This Matters: International investment into Angola has been hampered by the misimpression that Angola remains corrupt. In its May 19, 2021 ruling, however, a U.S. Court determined for the first time that Angola is an adequate forum, with adequate safeguards for due process and rule of law.
“I am very pleased with the ruling. It is a victory for Angola, credible investors and for my good friend and superstar lawyer Mike Ehrenstein. Mike never gave up and in all our conversations, he was so hopeful and committed. This ruling reinforces the hope that African countries and Africans have when it comes to the fairness of the American judiciary as compared to many rulings against Africans in the UK and European courts, that have been seen as biased”. Stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.
“It is my hope that this landmark court decision establishes a precedent and also encourages African countries that when we respect the independence of the Judiciary, sanctity of contracts and the rule of law, frivolous claims by fictious investors will be thrown out of courts and arbitration”. Concluded Ayuk