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Hong Kong court makes final judgment on "Congo case"

(Xinhua)

10:14, September 09, 2011

HONG KONG, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Thursday made a final judgment that the city's law courts have no jurisdiction over Democratic Republic of Congo over a debt dispute between the country and a U.S. investment fund in conformity with the legal interpretation from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC).

Hong Kong's Department of Justice welcomed the judgment, saying it has allowed an important legal criterion in Hong Kong to be clarified, confirming the central people's government's rules and policies on state immunity are applied to the region.

The Congo government owed the U.S. investment fund, FG Hemisphere Associates LLC, more than 100 million U.S. dollars. The New-York based company sued in Hong Kong, for Congo's failure to repay the money.

The DRC claimed that it enjoys state immunity and that the courts of Hong Kong do not have jurisdiction over the country. The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal then, for the first time, sought legal interpretation from the NPC Standing Committee over the argument.

On Aug. 26, the NPC standing Committee adopted an interpretation of Paragraph 1, Articles 13 and Article 19 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong.

According to the interpretation, the DRC was given absolute state immunity, i.e., immune from any court proceedings in Hong Kong, and therefore, cannot be sued in the city by a U.S. investment fund.

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