Case against NEC stayed

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THE National Court has stayed a case filed by New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan (plaintiff) seeking to invalidate a National Executive Council (NEC) decision directing Lihir Gold Mine to change the royalty distribution mechanism for the New Ireland government.
Deputy Chief justice Ambeng Kandakasi, in Waigani, on Monday stayed the proceedings and adjourned the case to Aug 27 for further mention. The parties were directed to comply with term two of the orders of April 19 which stipulates that parties are directed to have this matter resolved in accordance with relevant provisions under clause 42 of the Lihir revised memorandum of agreement 2007 and failing that, parties are to come back with appropriate orders to allow that process to take place.
The decision, through the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), directed Lihir to distribute the 50 per cent royalty remitted to New Ireland government by giving 20 per cent to the Namatanai District Development Authority, 20 per cent to the Kavieng District Development Authority and 10 per cent to New Ireland government.
Justice Kandakasi also dissolved an interim injunction order obtained on April 19 which had restrained the instruction from NEC decision for Lihir to make direct royalty payments to the two district development authorities as he noted that the plaintiff would not suffer any irreparable damage.
Sir Julius had claimed that the NEC decision was unlawful and was in breach of clauses 6 (c) and 23 of the 2007 Lihir revised memorandum of agreement (MoA) relating to the Lihir Gold Mine project.
Under the old MoA, the royalties were paid to the provincial government and then distributed to the DDAs.
Sir Julius claimed that the Lihir Gold Mine must continue to follow the royalty distribution and arrangement of remitting the 50 per cent royalty directly to the New Ireland government in accordance with the royalty distribution mechanism in place.