WINDHOEK - Law firm Theunissen, Louw and Partners was ordered yesterday by the High Court not to disclose confidential documents of several chicken exporters from South Africa to their clients, Namibia Poultry Industries (NPI).
This came after the entities Astral Foods Ltd, Supreme Poultry, Crown Chickens, Sovereign Foods, Afgri Poultry and Rainbow Farms together with the South African Poultry Association lodged an urgent application in the High Court. The documents were made available to Theunissen, Louw and Partners as part of discovery documents in the main trial in which the six applicants are asking the High Court to review and set aside the quantitative restriction on poultry imports imposed by Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein as infant industry protection.
Judge Harald Geier issued an order after the parties reached an agreement. According to the agreement the urgent application was postponed to a date to be determined in consultation with the managing judge.
Theunissen, Louw and Partners are further ordered to treat the documents as confidential and not disclose them to NPI or any other third party and only use them for review purposes. Theunissen, Louw and Partners and NPI must file their answering affidavits by 18 September and the applicants their reply by 25 September. The matter of costs was reserved and will be decided on the date agreed.
Advocate Andrew Corbett represented the applicants on instructions from Ellis Shilengudwa Inc. The hearing of the main application will take place in front of Judge President Petrus Damaseb on 29 September.
The documents in question are invoices and other sensitive information that could cause irreparable harm to the applicants should they land in the wrong hands, according to an affidavit by Ian Petherbridge, the legal representative of the applicants. He said that the documents were handed over with the understanding that they are for the lawyer’s eyes only. To that effect an agreement was drafted, but due to an oversight on the part of the legal team it was omitted that NPI or its employees were not allowed to see the documentation.
According to Petherbridge the applicants never signed the agreement as they would not allow their direct competitors insight to such sensitive information.
He said that Theunissen, Louw and Partners were planning to use this oversight as an excuse to disclose the information to NPI which would have caused severe harm to the applicants as it contained pricing structures and profit margins.
New Era Reporter
2014-09-10 07:33:12 4 years ago