My Opinion | Dec 11,2020
Country Club Developers (CCD), one of the luxury real state developers in the country, lost its case at the Constitutional Inquiry Council over disputed housing units.
The constitutional interpretation advisory body, chaired by Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi, rejected the appeal of CCD during a hearing on April 3, 2019. The Council closed the case, citing that it did not amount to a constitutional question.
In a letter bearing Meaza's signature and issued on April 9, 2019, the ruling lifted the injunction it passed on the Court's ruling that ordered the real estate developer to deliver the houses to the home buyers. The Council injuncted the High Court's decision two months ago when CCD filed an appeal to have the case reviewed.
In its appeal filed on February 14, 2019, CCD claimed that the Federal High Court does not have jurisdiction to preside over the case, since the disputed homes are located in Legtafo Legedadi City Administration, Oromia Regional State.
"Immovable properties should be adjudicated in a court where the properties are located," reads CCD's appeal to the Council. "Thus, Oromia Supreme Court should review the case."
Country Club Developers lost its appeal at the Constitutional Inquiry Council on April 3, 2019, and the Execution Court in Lideta High Court has adjourned the case to April 30, 2019.
Though some of the litigants are non-nationals, which makes it a federal case, CCD argued that the Constitution had delegated powers of the Federal High Court to the regional supreme courts.
"Since the classification of power and jurisdiction of courts is a constitutional matter, the case needs to be reviewed by the Council," reads CCD's appeal.
The Council, which has been reviewing the case for the past two months, dismissed CCD's appeal and lifted its injunction over the transfer of the homes two weeks ago.
Before the injunction order, the home buyers were awaiting the delivery of the disputed homes when the Execution Court set February 14, 2019, as a deadline for the delivery. The case has been tossed around through a bitter legal battle that has already taken over eight years.
The home buyers bought the homes between 2006 and 2007, paying between 1.7 million Br to 3.1 million Br with a delivery date set 18 months after the contract execution. The homes are located in Legatafo, 11Km northeast of the capital.
The real estate firm requested that the home buyers make additional payments of half a million Birr each due to inflation in the cost of construction material, which was rejected by six home buyers; while the remaining 1,000 agreed to pay the additional costs to CCD. Following their refusal to comply, the developer terminated the agreement with the six home buyers.
Disappointed with the termination of the contract, the homeowners sued the real estate developer for breach of contract by failing to deliver the homes within the contractually stipulated time and price.
The High Court, Supreme Court and the Cassation Bench all ruled in favour of the home buyers and ordered CCD to transfer the homes to the buyers without any price adjustments. The case then went to the Execution Court for enforcement of the courts' rulings.
CCD requested a year and a half to finalise and deliver the homes with a deadline set for November 2017. CCD was also ordered to equip the houses with kitchen taps, exhaust hoods, boilers, gates, water and electric hookups.
When the company failed to deliver the homes on the established deadline, the buyers went to court in January 2019 to enforce the ruling.
Mesele Haile (PhD), who co-founded the company in 2002 with a registered capital of 20 million Br, was summoned by the Court to explain why his company failed to deliver the homes as per the deadline. Mesele explained that the forex crunch constrained the company from providing the houses.
The judge ordered the company to deliver the units by February 14, 2019. On the same day, CCD filed an appeal to the Council, which rejected the petition two weeks ago.
Following this, the home buyers reinstated the case at the Execution Court in Lideta High Court to proceed with the handover process. The Judge adjourned the case to April 30, 2019, ordering the judgment debtor to appear before the court.
PUBLISHED ON Apr 20,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 990]
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