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Vietnam Airlines pursues Eur5.2 million lawsuit   2009-03-17 - VietNamNet/VNE

 
 Contending that it has discovered evidence of fraud in the lawsuit conducted by Italian lawyer Liberati, Vietnam Airlines has asked for an annulment of the decision of the Roma Lower Court on March 7, 2000, under which Vietnam Airlines has to pay compensation of 5.2 million Euros.

 

The Roma Lower Court will consider Vietnam Airlines’ petition for annulling the verdict on April 2.

 

The airline said it had found two secret letters to arrange the lawsuit sent by lawyer Maurizio Liberate, the plaintiff, to Falcomar Company, which is the co-defendant with Vietnam Airlines. Falcomar was an agent of Vietnam Airlines in Italy.

 

Vietnam Airlines General Director Pham Ngoc Minh said the hearing on April 2 will be decisive and the last chance for Vietnam Airlines to seek justice. If the court rejects Vietnam Airlines’ petition, the firm will have no chance to reject Liberati’s compensation petition.

 

The lawsuit was initiated 15 years ago by lawyer Liberati. In 1991 Vietnam Airlines signed a contract to hire Falcomar Company to be its agent in Italy. The company then hired Maurizio Liberati to work for Falcomar in the position of Vietnam Airlines representative.

 

November 1, 1994 the Embassy of Italy in Vietnam sent a court summons to Vietnam Airlines requiring attendance at a trial to be held in Rome on November 30, 1995. The summons listed Liberati as the plaintiff, seeking compensation for unpaid work.

 

November 30, 1995, the trial opened. No Vietnam Airlines representative was present.

 

After several hearings, on March 7, 2000, the Rome Lower Court issued its verdict, requiring Vietnam Airlines to pay compensation of 4.8 billion lira (around Eur4.3 million) and cover Liberati’s legal costs of 58.5 million lira. Vietnam Airlines didn’t take part in the first hearing, so it didn’t receive the verdict or any information related to the case.

 

On May 2, 2002, when the deadline for appeals expired, Vietnam Airlines received Liberati’s letter and the copy of the Rome Lower Court’s verdict, which asked the firm to pay compensation of Eur4.3 million.

 

Liberati asked for the execution of the verdict in France. On February 18, 2004, the French Committee for Debt Claim and Distrainment informed Vietnam Airlines of a blockade of Eur1.3 million on the corporation’s Europe based bank account.

 

The Paris Court of Appeals defined the sum that Vietnam Airlines had to pay to Liberati was nearly Eur5.2 million, including interest through the end of 2003.

 

In April 2004, Vietnam Airlines sent a petition of appeal to the Paris Court of Appeals to ask for an annulment of the blockade and to the Rome Court of Appeals asking for a reconsideration of the verdict in 2000 of the Roma Lower Court. The two courts rejected the petitions, saying that the deadline for appeal had expired.

 

The Paris Court of Appeal rejected the firm’s petition, but it hasn’t executed the verdict yet; it is just holding Eur5.2 million to wait for the final decision from Roma.

 

Vietnam Airlines’ General Director Pham Ngoc Minh said in 2006, the firm paid Eur5.2 million to the blockaded account to serve the verdict’s execution. Since then, the firm has sought some evidence.

 

In October 2005, the firm submitted a special petition to the Rome Lower Court, asking it to annul the verdict in 2000 after it detected two secret letters that lawyer Liberati sent to Falcomar.

 

The two letters were sent in 1996, one year after the first hearing at the Roma Lower Court. In this letter, Liberati asked Falcomar to declare at the court that it hired him to work for Vietnam Airlines. After receiving the two letters, Falcomar stated it would dissolve to shift the responsibility in this case to Vietnam Airlines. Liberati and Falcomar built a script to ask for millions of euros of compensation from Vietnam Airlines.

 

The Roma Lower Court will work in the sixth session to consider Vietnam Airlines special.

 

“Despite the conclusion, we will pursue this lawsuit to get justice and to defend the prestige of Vietnam Airlines and to avoid bad precedents for Vietnamese businesses,” Minh said.

 

The Roma Court of Appeal rejected Vietnam Airlines’ appeals in December 2008 after seven working sessions.

 

However, according to Vietnam Airlines, the judge who was in charge of this case said that this was a very abnormal case. It is abnormal in the way the Roma Lower Court sent the court summons to Vietnam Airlines via the Italian Embassy in Vietnam, not the Vietnamese Embassy in Italy to the accusation of lawyer Liberati, and the secret letters between this lawyer and Falcomar.

 

Vietnam Airlines General Director Pham Ngoc Minh said that the agent contract signed between his firm and Falcomar has a clause that Falcomar only sells air tickets for Vietnam Airlines and Vietnam Airlines doesn’t bear responsibility for any contract or agreement that Falcomar signs with others.

 

The prime minister on March 9 assigned related agencies to support Vietnam Airlines in this lawsuit.



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