DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum : A law firm asks US Supreme Court to grant Morocco a certiorari

American philanthropist John Paul DeJoria. / DR
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In August 2019, an American court of appeal ruled in favor of American liquor tycoon John Paul DeJoria, preventing him from paying a $123-million Moroccan settlement after a failed oil project. Reacting to the ruling, an American law firm filed, Tuesday, an amicus curiae brief before the United States Supreme Court supporting the Moroccan party.

The law firm, Miles & Stockbridge, announced in a press release that its brief is in support of the petition for certiorari by Maghreb Petroleum Exploration, S.A., and Mideast Fund for Morocco Limited, which failed to have an American court recognize a Moroccan judgment against DeJoria.

The amicus curiae argues that the «Fifth Circuit's opinion in DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum Exploration, refusing to recognize a foreign judgment in an American court (…) undermines America's promotion of the rule of law abroad».

«The Fifth Circuit's opinion in DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum Exploration, S.A. reflects poorly on American justice», said Thomas M. Wolf, a principal and trial lawyer in the Richmond office of Miles & Stockbridge.

Furthermore, the law firm stressed that the Fifth Circuit court should review the decision against Morocco to «prevent the harm to international business that the ruling will cause, if left uncorrected and restore consistency in the federal courts' handling of foreign-judgment-recognition cases».

In August 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a prior judgment that refused to recognize a Moroccan court’s ruling against DeJoria. The affirmance endorsed the decision of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas that found that the billionaire was denied due process in Morocco.

This meant that DeJoria would not have to pay $123 million to the Moroccan side, after he was accused of alleged fraud and mismanagement.

The ruling was based on the findings of the Texas court, which ruled that the American entrepreneur was entitled to nonrecognition of the Moroccan judgement under the 2005 Uniform Foreign Country Money-Judgment Recognition Act.

For the record, DeJoria and his associates were sued by Maghreb Petroleum Exploration after he failed to meet the objectives of a 1999 oil project, known as the Talsint oil project.

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