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Lawyer files Chartered Accounting firm’s appeal against defamation judgement

Chartered Accounting firm Aliz Pacific and Chartered Accountant Nur Bano Ali have filed an appeal against a defamation judgement delivered by the High Court. The appeal was filed yesterday in
08 Feb 2018 12:53
Lawyer files Chartered  Accounting firm’s appeal against defamation  judgement
Nur Bano Ali

Chartered Accounting firm Aliz Pacific and Chartered Accountant Nur Bano Ali have filed an appeal against a defamation judgement delivered by the High Court.

The appeal was filed yesterday in the Court of Appeal by their lawyer Devanesh Sharma, who advanced the Notice of Appeal proposing six grounds where the firm found that the learned judge had erred in law and fact.

They submitted that the judge erred:

When he held that a tender had to be called for the procurement of goods, services or works valued at $30,001.The firm stated that the Finance Instructions Act of 2010 was not in force at the time and the Fijian Government was not a budget sector agency to whom the Finance Instructions applied.

When he held that the statements made by the Auditor General were not published maliciously or with any malicious intent. The appeal stated that this was done without considering the fact that the Auditor-General had ignored the advice of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It had informed him that a tender was not necessary and also without taking any steps to verify the allegations made in his report with the firm so as to give them an opportunity to refute the allegations before it was published in his report.

When he failed to uphold the firm’s submission that the Government had paid them $562,500 to facilitate the consultancy and that the Auditor General wanted to give readers of his report the distinct impression that the amount was paid as fees when he knew or would have known it not to have been. The appeal submitted that any reasonable reader of the Auditor General’s report would have thought that the accounting firm had received the payment as fees.

When he failed to consider and uphold that the Auditor General was only protected if he complied with the Constitution and submitted his report in parliament to the speaker and the Minister of Finance. They submitted that nothing in Section 152 of the Constitution allowed the Auditor General to place the audit report in his website where members of the public could access it.

When he failed to uphold that the Auditor General was carrying out his statutory duty to compile the report but any comments made in the report had to be on matters which required him to give his opinion on pursuant to Section 152 2(a) and (b) of the Constitution.

When he failed to uphold their submissions and consider the evidence before the court that Dr Ali did not inform the Rewa Co-operative Dairy Company Limited board of directors that her company had been awarded a consultancy, which was done by an Amrita Singh.

Relief was sought by the accounting firm to have the findings and orders set aside and substituted with an order that they had proved their case on a balance of probabilities and that damages be awarded to them.

The firm is also seeking an order for costs for the appeal.

Edited by Percy Kean

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