SIERRA LEONE HIGH COMMISSION PRESS RELEASE
Subj: 33 Portland Place Judgement
Date: 3/16/04 3:59:32 AM Dateline Standard Time
It will be recalled that in 2000 the Government of Sierra Leone commenced legal proceedings in London to recover the Chancery Building and premises housing the Sierra Leone High Commission at 33, Portland Place, London. The initial action was against Edward Davenport and his Company, Capricorn Financial Investments and the former High Commissioner for Sierra Leone in London and Donald George who acted as legal Adviser to the High Commissioner. The Government’s claim against the last two defendants was wholly abandoned because of the intervention of circumstances which rendered the discontinuance of the case against them advisable. No further action is intended to be taken against these two defendants personally or against their estate.
The Government has now accepted an offer from the other two defendants, Davenport and Capricorn, for the settlement of the matter out of court on terms which are acceptable to the Government. As a result, a Consent Judgement was entered on the 15th March in the High Court in London and this brings the matter to an end with an award in excess of �800,000 (Eight Hundred Thousand Pounds sterling) being made in favour of the Government.
The material terms of the Consent Judgement are given as follows:
a) The sum of �140,000 (One Hundred and forty thousand pounds sterling) paid by the Government as security for costs is to be paid back to the Government with all interests accrued on it.
b) The Defendants, Davenport and Capricorn, are to pay to Government �720,000 (Seven Hundred and twenty pounds sterling) as judgement sum.
c) The Defendants, Davenport and Capricorn are to pay the sum of �80,000 (eighty thousand pounds sterling) when the Government vacates Oxford Circus House No. 245 Oxford Street, London within six months of the date of the Consent Judgement.
d) The Government can use the premises at No. 245 Oxford Street as the Chancery for the London High Commission rent-free for a period of six months commencing from the judgement date.
No Order was made as to costs on either side.
It will be recalled that Government decided to commence this action as it did not accept the propriety relating to the transaction resulting in the assignment of the premises at No. 33 Portland Place to Edward Davenport and Capricorn Financial Investments. Government’s position has now been vindicated by the outcome of the case.
It will be recalled that Government’s original claim was for the repossession of the premises in question. The position was abandoned and the terms of the settlement out of court were accepted having regard to –
a. The protracted period that the action would have taken if the original claim was pursued to its logical conclusion, and
b. The fact that the Government only had leasehold interest in that property which was to revert to the owner at the end of the lease.
With the Judgement sum now available, Government will proceed to acquire appropriate freehold property to house the High Commission in London.