Makweley Lysongo Vs FCO, Cameroon Case: British Court Declares Itself Incompetent
The High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division on 25 October, 2018 gave its verdict on the matter.
Facts of the case presented before the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division state that the Claimant, Makweley Lysongo on 14 September, 2017 lodged a complaint “seeking relief against Her Majesty’s Government and the Republic of Cameroon on the basis of wrongs alleged to have been done by the United Kingdom to the people of the former British Southern Cameroons (‘BSC’)”. He further sought a declaration that “the union of the BSC and Cameroon was illegal and invalid”. Basing its judgement on the submissions by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that “the Republic of Cameroon cannot be sued as a defendant because it has State immunity as a matter of customary law and as a matter of statute,” the High Court of the Queen’s Bench Division, declared it was incompetent to hear the matter. In passing judgment on the case lodged by Makweley Lysongo, the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division equally explained that; “The claimant regards the word ‘Trusteeship’ in the UN documents as having something to do with the concept of a trust in English law. The words may be the same, but the two concepts are different.” the judge concluded. While the claimant presented himself in person during the court hearing before the verdict on 25 October, 2018, James Purnell and Sean Aughey were instructed by the Government Legal Department of the FCO to defend the first defendant but the second defendant, the Republic of Cameroon did not attend the hearing. The High Court of Justice in England is together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court considered as Senior Courts of England and Wales abbreviated as EWHC for legal citation purposes. The Court deals with all high value and important cases and also has a supervisory jurisdiction over all subordinate courts and tribunals. In addition, the Queen’s Bench Division or the King’s Bench Division, depending on whether the Monarch is a King or Queen hears appeals on points of law from the Magistrate Courts and from Crown Courts. Other explanatory notes about the legal system of the United Kingdom indicate that; “Originally, the High Court consisted of five Divisions—the King’s Bench, Common Pleas, Exchequer, Chancery, and Probate, Divorce and Admiralty divisions. In 1880, the Common Pleas and Exchequer divisions were abolished, leaving three divisions. The Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division was renamed to the Family Division by the Administration of Justice Act 1970, and its jurisdiction reorganised accordingly”.
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