x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Kuwait Airways wins court battle

Kuwait Airways has won a legal ruling in Canada against Iraq Airways over claims centred on the First Gulf War.

A Canadian court has ruled unanimously in favour of Kuwait Airways in its long-running dispute with Iraq Airways, stemming from the First Gulf War.

The Kuwaiti airline is seeking redress for its claims that Iraq stole aircraft and parts when it invaded the Gulf state in 1990.

It has pursued a legal battle in the UK and Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a unanimous 9-0 decision on Thursday that Iraq cannot rely on state immunity to stop Kuwait from trying to seize Iraqi assets in Canada, including Bombardier aircraft.

"This finding opens the way for partial payment of Kuwait Airways for liabilities that stretch back over 20 years," Christopher Gooding, an attorney with Fasken Martineau in London, said yesterday.

The airline was "delighted the Supreme Court has, in line with our arguments, accepted the legal tests applied in this case", Mr Gooding said.

The ruling overturned two decisions by lower courts in Quebec, which ruled Iraq was entitled to state immunity from an US$84 million (Dh308.5m) legal judgment awarded to Kuwait Airways in a British court.

"Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the ensuing Gulf War are today having unforeseen consequences for Canadian courts," wrote Justice Louis LeBel. "The military conflict has now given way to a courtroom battle."

The Supreme Court concluded that Canada's State Immunity Act, which protects sovereign states from judgments in other countries, did not apply in this case because the act exempted commercial activity.

LeBel rejected Iraq's argument that the jet appropriation was a "sovereign act" and that the country was therefore entitled to immunity under Canadian law.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Quebec Superior Court to rehear Kuwait's application for legal recognition of its British judgment in Canada.

* with agencies

igale@thenational.ae