No answers as brothers' case delayed again

THE end of a six-year dispute between the millionaire Weissfisch brothers may not be in immediate sight as the hearing was rescheduled again yesterday morning.

The hearing before the Court of Appeal is now set for November 12, when parties involved in the ongoing dispute are expected to have filed in their submissions to the appellate court by early October.

The dispute started in a court battle in England in 2006 when Rami Weisfisch was accused by his younger brother, Amir Weissfisch of refusing to account for his partnership profits.

(The brothers spell their surnames differently. Rami Weisfisch dropped an 's' from the family Weissfisch surname in spelling his own name).

Their firm, the Metals Resources Group, became a dominant force in the global cobalt market in London in 1999. The company closed in 2002.

However, the dispute began when Amir, who ran Metals Resources Group (MRG) with his elder brother Rami, claimed that Rami reneged on a plan to dissolve their partnership and is suing for up to $88 million.

Since 2006, claims and counter-claims were exchanged between the parties.

A 2006 report in The Observer in London explains the details of the depth of the dispute where "Amir claims that at the time of the alleged agreement his elder brother was about to have life-threatening heart surgery and wanted to make sure that his family would be provided for if he died. He claims that he transferred the $88m to Rami and his daughter".

"But Rami," continued the Observer's report, "survived his heart bypass operation, which led eventually to the current dispute."

According to Amir's claim, filed at the High Court in London, it had been proposed as part of the agreement in November 2001 that if Rami lived "the sum of $37.5m would be repaid to (Amir) within three months along with further sums to be identified".

"But Amir's statement of claim adds that Rami failed to do this and 'wrongfully and in breach of the oral agreement, (Rami) continued to assert rights over and in MRG Group (and) to direct the business of MRG Group'."

The firm was registered in the Bahamas, where litigation has continued.

In that time, three judges have recused themselves at the request of Rami's legal team - Justices Anita Allen and Jon Isaacs, with Justice Lyons, who started the case, the first to step down.

The last judge - Mr Justice Stephen Isaacs refused Rami's request that he recuse himself.

Rami had alleged that Justice Isaacs had shown bias towards his younger brother, which the judge denied.

However, Justice Isaacs later of his own volition removed himself from the case.

In yesterday's appellate court proceedings, a number of points were raised by counsel for the respective brothers.

One of those was the request of the Supreme Court stenographer's original notes from the hearings before Justice Isaacs in the lower court, as full trial transcripts had not been available for some time.

However, Justice Christopher Blackman stated that he "was not inclined to order the production of any notes".

His reason for this position is that he did not wish to "question the integrity of the stenographers".

Another of the points raised concerned a recent confidentiality order made by a judge regarding aspects of the case that is still pending.

However, the justices were not prepared to set a date for leave to appeal the order.

Counsel for Rami Weisfisch must file their submissions by September and the responding party, Amir Weissfisch and his counsel, were ordered to file their responses by October.

The hearing before Justices Blackman, Stanley John and Abdulai Conteh will be on November 12.


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