Thunderball Ltd v The Attorney General Minister of Justice (FTCC 078/12) [2018] SLHC 1273 (29 November 2018);

  1. By  an amended  writ  of  sum mon s  dated  the  9: h  day  of  February.  2015. the Plaintiff claimed against the De fendants  her-ein. th e Attor ney -  Gen eral  and Minister of Justice the Mrnrster of Mines and Miner al Resour ces. and the Director of Mines seeking the foll owing r elief



  1. The Plaintiff filed a writ of summons dated 2151  day of Novem ber . 2012 against the Defendants listed in the said writ of summons claiming several r elief .

3 By the order of Solomon JA (as she then was). dated 41h February 2013. the Plaintiff amended the said writ of summons to include BAROMA LIMITED as fifth Defendant .



6    On the 151       day  of  February.  2013.  an  interim  injunction  was   granted




restr?ining  the 51

Defendant whether by itself. its servants. agents. privies.


patrons or assigns or anyone acting under its instructions from entering into or upon all that piece or parcel of land situate. lying and being at Fiama Kamara. Gbense and Tankoro Chiefdoms Kono District measuring approximately 67.0 sq. km. the subject - matter of the action herein.

  1. On the  said 151h   February.  2013.  the  firm  of  Basma  and  Macau ley entered appearance for the 5th Defendant herein. Appearance had already been enter ed for th e 1s t  . 2_ nd 3rdand 4t h  Defendants on the 301h  N ovember.  2013.
  2. An application for Inte r locutor y injunction was filed by Notice of Motion dated

11t h  Februar y. 2013 which was granted by Solomon JA (as she then was) on the

]th day of June. 2013.

  1. The Solicitors for the 5t h  Defendant by a Not ice of Motion dated the 20111 day of June. 2013 sought leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the Ruling dated 7t h  June. 2013. and a stay of proceedings pendrng the determination  of the Appeal. This appeal was not heard untilit was over taken by events


8   By a No ti ce of Di scon tinuanc  e dated 17t h  day of December   2014  the Plainti ff vVnvay .. .,  ,..J  Hl,"'ued tl-ie ustion ,g...,11-.,-t t -- 5  r'J::,;":ln,...j n ;1 :=-s d an : to an order of-Sammon JA {-as-she then washJ2t-2d_:9· un.: :21;1 c .

eL,.\iNIIFF'S Clf\lM

  1. Th authority to sue the Governmei"t of Sierra Leorie by virtue of s ctron 3 of the state proceedi'lgs  /\ct   2000 v1as con"':Jlied 1,1.;i h  Ji  the S0l1c1 to :-  for  the_ Plaintiff. Sengepoh S. Tnomas Esq. tJy lette'"" to the Attor11ey -  G21eral  J'ld Minister of Justice dated 16:h August. 2012 This v1as  not  contravened  by Counsel for the 1,1 and 2    Defendants

i            The Plaintiff. a company  duly regis ter· ed under  the Laws of Sier ra Leone in 2009 applied to and recei ved fro m the 4t" Defendant an exploratio,'l licence pursuant  to the Mires ancl Minerals Act. 1994 rn for-ce at the time.                         ../.'

ii. Pursuant to  the terms contained  in  the expl oration  li cence. land situate lying and being at Faiama Kam ar a Chiefdom Gbense and Tankoro Chief doms. Kono District in the Eastern Province of the Repub l ic of Sierra Leone measuring up to 67 10 sq km was 1dent1fied and obtained for the said exploration process.

111.                     All   prescribed   fees   were   paid  and  receipts   issued  by  the  3ro Defendant to the Plaintiff and all conditions stated on the said licence were complied  with.

  1. Upon the completion of the exploration phase and acting  on  the recommendation of the 2nd.  3rd  and  4th Defendan ts.  sometime  in  2011.  the Plaintiff applied in writing to the 4th Defendant fo r a large  scale  Mining li cence  to which  the  said  4th  Defendant  replied   in   writing   demanding   certain documentation.


  1. The Plaintiff in December. 2011 requested for additional time to obtain the necessary documentation and in the interim requested a renewal of  the explor ation licence. which the Plaintiff said he will be willing to forgo upon obtaining lar ge scale Mining licence .
  2. At the request of the 3rd Defendant. the Pl ain ti ff made a payment of USO

$ 26.840.00 for a renewal of the exploration licence for the period 1st December. 2011 to 30th November. 2012.

  1. On the 16th December. 2011. the 3rc Defendant acknow ledged the payment  of  the said $ 26.860.00 and issued a r eceipt  to  the Plain ti ff  r enew ing  the exploration licence
  2. By letter dated 12th J anua r y. 2012 and 26th March. 2012 respectively the Plaintiff was informed by the 3rd Defendant that the exploration licence had been revoked

:x)     Se. e:-al  efforts  bv the  Plaintif  to  resolv e  the   oroblem  were




  1. ScYnetime in 2012. Bor-arna Cornoanv wrongtL,llV 2·1tBred the said la•;d


  1. The  PL31ntiff  nao  expendeo  aoprox1mateLy  uSO  $ 7           11Lllor  on  tiie

projeCi:SOfar.                                                                              -



I            Tf-ie Defendants v"ere not iri the position to admit  that  the Plaintiff paid the prescribed fees a'ld comol1ed with the conditions stated on the licence

II.        Under  the Mines and Minerals  Act. 2009 the  competent  author-ity to gr-art  exploration  Licence  v1cis   the  Mines  2nd  Minerals  Board  created  by the said Act and any other process outside the said Board 1.vas a nul l ity.

Ill.           ThePlaintiffs licence  hadexposed and had not  been renewed and so  there was no need for it to be revok ed.

  1. The Plaintiff hadnot complied with the Mines and Miner al s Act. 2009


  1. The Defendants had no duty to respond to the Plaintiffs letters since the Plaintiff hadfailed to make the proper application under the Mines and Minerals Act. 2009 for the renewal of its exploration l icen ce.


  1. Paragraphs                   24    and     25     of    the     particulars       of    claim           were embarrassing  andshould be struck out.


  1. That the Plaintiff hadnot establ ished any valid exploration licence or interest for the Court to make a declaration on


  1. If there was any interest for the Plai nt if f to protect the same is statute barred andthis Court lack jurisdiction to entertain the process.


  1. It was denied tha t the Plaintiff was entitled to damages.
  1. Testimony of Witnesses.

First Prosecution Witness - Ramez Hassan. PW 1informed the Court tha t he was the Managing Director of the Plaintiff Company and was aware of the transaction between his Company and the Government of Sierra Leone . He recalled making and signing a statement which he tendered as Exhib it A. He further testified as fol low s:-

1.     He  referred  to  his letter  of application  for  large  -   scale  mining licence dateds1t December. 2011. PWl  al ready had an exploration licen ce.

11.     PW 1 paid  the  fee  of  $26.840 .00 to  renew  an  exploration  licence for  the period ofs1 t December. 2011 to  30th N ove mber. 2012

1;:.        Tne renev1al  fee  was  ac><nowleaged  bv  tott::1r  ciri tP d  16th DecPmber  issu9d

by the 3  .Oef odanL _ _ _


.J                                             I        ,

1v      He was  surprised to receive a letter latter  f,-om  the  3'   Defendan,t the  r-e:"'ewal licence tho.Joh the :J2vr-;.1cnt  \'! 3 S never refunded

-e1I ot{i .:1g


v       / n  Environment  lmoact  Assessment  111as  ca  Tied  out  a11d  a ce; ttficate issJed  Paym e11  was  m,1d for t1is exercise.                                                        _

  1. PW 1 and other investors had a-l 1 ea dy spent to $7.000 000/00 at the tin,e the licen ce was revoked.

v11.       He  \Vas  not  infor m ed of  any  breach  by the Com pany of  any terms  of the explor ati on l icen ce

v111.      Tha t     th e     Com pany   t r ied     2l l    1t  coul d      to     an, ic abl y    s ettl e             any misun der stan di ng with th e r elevan t aut hor it ie s to no ava il.

x11i )   The  Plainti f f  addi tionall y  r el ied   on   the   wi tn ess   sta tem ent   and   all documents ex hib ite d in the  Cour-t  bun dle.

  1. Cross-Examination

    u,1de! C,·u:_;:.:. -E:,;ar ;-11r-.2tion b , O _;rnJn I l< Esq. C::unset fo;- the Defendants fYJ(I a:::lro1:U2d ti13t pi :'Jr  in hi: 2µplie 2: 1on for r-ei-1cwal of explor·a tion lice11ce: the ori;i:ri2 Uce0u? t1a'.l expired loi twc cLJy ;. rie 2xµlained that  th2  delay  was becali e th2 Plair.iiff was 2ctiv2ly nr.:got1,Jt1ng for a large-scale mining licence at th,:: li,·11e c:-1d had c:ilrc:ady pJid abo  1t $50.00U/OU a:-,d so there was no need at the I111V.;- iu re!-iew lne explor ation of liu1nce.

    xiv)          PW i 2drnitted that he was avva:-e cf the role of the Mineral Advisory Board in renevval of the licenses

  2. ,0.ftcr  this   cross-examinalion.  the  Plair1tiff   closed   their-  case   The
  3. Defem.lanls never opened their s and only occasionally made an apoez::r,:ince in Court though several notices were sent. This vvas the state of ,6,f!oir·s until the Dir ector· of Mines v;.:is invited to thro w lrght on the- is:,ue.

    xvr:)    O!···rr      l'-1:iy. 2016.  lv1r. Peter  Sang•..ff a. the  Dirt?ctor  of  Mines  infarmed

    ·· lrv C-our 1 ti1at the Minister of Mines had l.Jeen given professional advice on  the matter.

    xviii)   On  th 0. rr   ..iL!ly. 2016. the Director inforrnecJ the Court that the firm  of

    Fornah-Sesay. Cummings and Showers had advised the Minis tr y that

  4. the r::ivoc:ation  of  the Plciintiff"s  lic<::nce  v.;as lawful. The  Co ur t w2s
  5. h ow2,'e1· not shovm this opinion.

    f ix) On the  pn  hlovember.  2016.  the  Plaintiff's  Solicitor.  Sengepoh  S Thon, as  Esq.  in formed the  Court  that  the  Defendan ts Counsel  had

    :nforrned him th at they had no \-Vi tne sse·s.

  6. Tile rn2tte;- was further adjourned and notices ser-ved. The Defendants did not appear Jgain. As the Plaintiffs Counsel had informed th e Court U:,1t his  col tc.:=ic ue did not intend to c2ll wil1,essGs (\vhich is his right to c:o) l (1r·dereci lh<1t i v:-1tt cn submission -; bf:-l made . The Plaintiff did .3fter I h·.= d \ \.l th c.Ji-a w 1·1 the file for Judgrnent but the Oefe11d3nts did not
  7. T