Bombardier Inc. is awaiting the verdict from Canada's highest court in a bizarre case pitting Kuwait Airways Corp. against the Republic of Iraq over the delivery of 10 CRJ-900 regional jets to the Persian Gulf airline.
The Supreme Court of Canada heard the legal presentations of the two sides yesterday.
Kuwait Airways is trying to seize the Bombardier planes purchased several years ago by Iraq as part of its efforts to recover losses suffered during Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, which included the plunder of 10 Kuwait Airways jetliners.
The airline was prevented from seizing the CRJ-900s by the Quebec courts, on the grounds that Iraq enjoyed state immunity.
But the case found its way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
A key issue under deliberation by the Supreme Court justices is the extent to which Canadian law covers foreign rulings on state immunity.
Ahmed Saadawi, adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said in an interview yesterday that the legal set-to is unfortunate, especially given the fact the government being sued by Kuwait for reparations is part of a reconstructed democratic country and has nothing to do with the former dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
"The government inherited a country devastated by war. We are a new regime completely different from the era of Saddam Hussein," he said yesterday.
Unhappily, Montreal-based Bombardier got caught up in the conflict, he added. The order for 10 CRJ-900s, seating about 88 passengers apiece, is a significant part of efforts to rebuild Iraq's beleaguered national airline, he said.
So far, four of the Bombardier regional planes have been delivered to Iraqi Airways, one in 2008 and three in 2009.
The remaining six are still pending until the court case is settled and have not yet been built, Bombardier Aerospace spokesman Marc Duchesne said.
The total value of the deal for the 10 planes is about $400-million (U.S.).
Christopher Gooding, London-based counsel for Kuwait Airways, said in an interview that the airline had no choice but to take a twisting legal route in several different jurisdictions because of numerous hurdles.
Kuwait Airways' efforts to win compensation from Iraq go back to 1991.
"I have spent 20 years on this case and, if all the facts had been relied upon, it could have been resolved much earlier," Mr. Gooding said.