Baku Court of Appeal forbade the press to observe process of  "FB-Company" lawsuit against "Azur Shopping Center"

Baku/20.01.23/Turan: On January 18, the Baku Court of Appeal (BCA) held the second trial on the claim of the owners of the commercial company "FB-Company" Anar Garibov and Agha Aliyev. 

Garibov and Aliyev consider a decision of the Baku Commercial Court, which actually supported the "Azur Shopping Center", as illegal. In 2019, the plaintiffs rented 1200 square meters of commercial territory in the shopping center. However, they could not work there because of the inexecutable demands of the "Azure Shopping Center" management. 

In partticular, businessmen have suffered financial damage worth more than one million manats. Garibov and Aliyev accuse the owners of the shopping center Fuad Rzayev and Babek Babayev, who created unbearable conditions for business and even stole the property of his company. The conflict took place in 2019-2020. The first trial was held in the Khatai Court, then in the Baku Commercial Court. 

On January 11 of this year, the first court hearing was held in BCA. A representative of Turan was present in the courtroom and the report of the meeting was presented in the article. The trial began on the claim of the businessman claiming more than a million bankruptcy due to the fault of the "Azure Shopping Center" management.

However, at the court hearing on January 18, judge Vusala Bakhysheva did not allow the press to attend the trial.

This is a BCA' strange attitude to the requirements of transparency in the work of the court proclaimed by the President of Azerbaijan. On April 4, 2019, the Presidential decree "On Deepening Reforms in the Judicial and Legal System" explicitly states about the obligation of courts to increase transparency in their work.

Turan was forced to write a report on the court session on the basis of the process retelling  by its participants.

Also, Turan made an information request to the chairman of the Baku Court of Appeal, Mubariz Akperov, asking him to explain the reason for closure of press access to the open trial and to assess the actions of judge Bakhysheva.

The defendant's lawyer, Asim Mirzazade, refused to answer Turan's questions, and did not provide his phone number.

So, during the second trial, "Azur"s lawyer Asim Mirzazade was heard. He described in detail the statement of the defendant about the delays in payment. The judge was provided with the dates when the tenants did not pay rent within the contractual terms. "Azur Shopping Center" accuses of late payment of debt. Tenants deny non-fulfillment of the terms of lease agreements.

Representatives of the injured party, who are defended by lawyer Enver Amiraliev, claim that according to the terms of the contract, all payments were transferred in a timely manner. This is confirmed by an independent audit report. The inflated rent, arbitrarily credited by the owners of the premises, was not paid, since the terms of the contract were not observed by the shopping center.

Mirzazade's lawyer admitted that there was no written notification of the closing of doors and other prohibitions for the tenants' employees on their part, only oral, but the rent was required from the merchants.

Further, the lawyer confirmed the fact of arbitrary removal of property from the shopping center on December 29, 2020, without permission and notification of tenants. The representative of the injured party on the first day of the trial spoke about the theft, and the representative of "Azur  Shopping Center" presented the removal of someone else's property worth about one million manats as a concern for the safety of property when its owners were not there due to the conflict between the parties.

The trial showed that there was no notification to the owners of the property about the removal of goods, surveillance cameras and commercial equipment. It ought to be noted that during the removal, the owners of the property were absent from the rented premises, because during the rampage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the management of the "Azur Shopping Center" created unbearable conditions for the sale of goods in an online format.

When asked by lawyer Enver Amiraliev why there was no written notification of the removal of property, the defendant's representative could not provide justifying arguments. At the same time, a representative of the owners of the shopping center confirmed that at the time of the arbitrary removal of someone else's property, they were in contractual relations with the tenants.

The lawyers of the injured party claim that the stolen goods and equipment were new, branded, suitable for sale, if only because under the terms of the contract with the "Azur Shopping Center", only original branded goods could be sold in the store. The damaged goods, according to the terms of the contract, could not be in the rented premises. A representative of the Center for Forensic Examination of the Ministry of Justice at a meeting in the court of first instance confirmed that due to storage in a damp room, all goods (branded clothing) and most of the commercial equipment became unusable.

There was a discussion between the parties in the Court of Appeal concerning the audit assessment of expenses and damage caused to tenants. Based on the receipt and expenditure documentation provided by the aggrieved party, as well as business correspondence between the lessee and the lessor, the auditors specified the exact amount of material damage of the property dispute. The audit materials and the above-mentioned documents were submitted to the court of first instance.

"Azur Shopping Center"representative A.Mirzazade could not answer the question when numerous advertising banners were removed outside and inside the shopping center during the unauthorized power outage, although under the terms of the contract the shopping center is liable for this advertising. The representative of "Azur Shopping Center" was also unable to answer questions about the reason for the failure to fulfill the duties of the shopping center as a result of an accident of the sewer system on the top floor, following  which the property of the merchants was damaged. 

Note that the shopping center demanded rent for the reviewed period, although under the terms of the contracts, landlords are directly responsible for damage to the goods and should not charge for the period until the consequences are eliminated. Despite oral and written notifications of the injured party, no one intended to eliminate the consequences of illegal actions.

When asked by the judge about the nature of the damage to the property illegally stored by the landlord in a room remote from the shopping center, it became known that the mannequins were broken, and due to non-compliance with the storage rules, the equipment and electrical appliances rusted and all the goods became unusable. Clothes became moldy and worms appeared on them. "Only those who took out and kept the goods in an inappropriate room are responsible for this," A.Garibov said in court.

Judge Bakhshalieva clarified the cost of the damaged goods, to which A.Garibov said that a year after the theft, with the participation of all parties, a roll-call inventory was compiled in accordance with the specifications within 17 days, a detailed audit of the quality and quantity of the remaining property was carried out, everything was documented and the materials were attached to the materials of the court case.

"The goods are so damaged that the forensic expert could not carry out a full check because they would have to wear gas masks because of the stench and insects on the clothes," the expert of the Ministry of Justice spoke at the meeting in the court of first instance.

Photos and video footage of the working store and what the property turned into after the "loss" can be seen on the "Famous Brands Azur" YouTube channel.

The process is ongoing…

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