By: Blamo N. Toe

Monrovia-Liberia Bankers Association has named lawsuits filed against banking institutions by individuals without imperative evidence and delays in settling those cases by the justice system as two major challenges significantly impacting the operations and financial stability of member banks.

A press statement issued Thursday, quoted the Liberia Bankers Association (LBA) as expressing concern over challenges member banks face in navigating the Liberian judicial system.

“Member banks in Liberia are facing some significant challenges related to the judicial system, impacting their operations and financial stability. These challenges are creating a climate of uncertainty and discouraging investment in the banking sector,” the statement says.

The institution stressed that the two key issues such as windfall monetary judgments against banks and delays in settling debt recovery actions brought by banks are particularly problematic.

The Association said the issues are not only costly but also damaging to the reputation of the banking sector, eroding public trust and hindering the ability of banks to effectively serve their customers.

The release indicated that a significant challenge faced by banks in Liberia is the prevalence of windfall suites against the banks, adding that this issue arises from cases where individuals or entities file lawsuits against banks seeking substantial financial compensation without sufficient legal grounds or evidence.

The Association also emphasized that the lack of a robust legal framework for vetting such claims has led to a situation where banks are burdened with defending themselves against unfounded accusations.

“These windfall suites often stem from a combination of factors, including manipulation of the legal system and an insufficient focus on the due process within the judicial system. The impact of such judgments on banks is significant, as they can lead to financial losses, reputational damage, and an erosion of public trust,” the statement states.

As relates to delays in the settlement of cases, the Association said banks in Liberia are experiencing substantial delays in the resolution of debt recovery actions brought before the courts.

It noted that this protracted legal process significantly impacts the operations of banks, indicating that delays in judgments can tie up valuable resources and hinder the ability of banks to resolve disputes efficiently.

“The slow pace of judicial proceedings can also erode public trust in the banking sector. When cases remain unresolved for extended periods, it creates an impression of inefficiency and lack of accountability. This can ultimately discourage individuals and businesses from engaging with the banking system,” it quotes.

In furtherance, the LBA said the windfall judgments and delays in resolving cases have had a significant impact on the operations of member banks, saying banks are forced to allocate substantial resources to address these legal challenges, diverting funds from core banking activities.

It added that the uncertainty surrounding the legal environment creates an environment of risk aversion, making it challenging for banks to attract investors and extend loans to businesses.

The Association stressed that the continued prevalence of windfall monetary judgments and delays in resolving debt cases initiated by banks against delinquent borrowers within Liberia’s judicial system poses significant risks to the stability of the banking sector.

“First, windfall lawsuits and delayed legal processes damage public confidence in the banking system. People may become hesitant to deposit their money in banks, fearing that it could be lost due to unfair judgement,” the statement said.

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