By Ashley Repp and Mary Donahue
Hailed as a surprising and unexpected decision, courts in the Jersey Isles ruled in favor of the Democratic Republic of Congo, dismissing the interests of the Vulture Fund, FG Hemisphere. After purchasing a debt originally owned by Yugoslavia for a mere $3 million, FG Hemisphere sued for $100 million after discovering that the DRC’s state-owned mining company held assets in Jersey. The decision handed down in favor of the DRC was the final appeal in a years-long process in which the DRC had consistently been ruled against and ordered to pay FG Hemisphere. Although the UK passed a law in 2010 against Vulture Funds, it does not apply to British crown dependencies, and Jersey, as a British dependent, is still a popular court system for vultures to operate in - and win.
While many close to the case saw little hope for the developing nation to win the appeal based on the history of the case in Jersey courts, the DRC prevailed. The UK Privy Council ruled that while the mining company is state owned, it is not so connected that it should be required to pay off debts owed by the government. While this is a victory against Vulture Funds, the longevity of this case highlights the long road developing nations still face against these vultures. Laws that protect against the greed and injustices of Vulture Funds leave glaring loopholes available that provide Vulture Funds with ample opportunity to litigate poor nations into submission. This time, justice prevailed but without the certainty that this will be the case always in the future.