An attempt by law firm Shikongo Law Chambers to claim N$3.1 million from a Chinese construction company in legal fees allegedly accrued during a court challenge of the cancelled N$7 billion Hosea Kutako International Airport tender was shot down by the High Court last week.
Judge Herman Oosthuizen ruled that the firm did not disclose the cause of action in their claim and thus struck the matter from the court roll.
The court further ordered the firm to pay the legal fees of Chinese company Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group.
“The plaintiff pleaded the cause of action for the payment of its legal fees is not supported by its verbal agreement with the defendant,” said Oosthuizen.
The court ruled the wording used in the contract between the firm and Anhui does not favour the firm and the invoice does not include legal fees of the instructing counsel.
The court found that the firm failed to explicitly and unambiguously indicate that legal fees fall under ‘other fees’ as the contingency agreement stipulates that, the instructing counsel is only entitled to his legal fees if the tender is successful.
The firm took the Chinese company to court after it had allegedly failed to pay N$3 180 092.35 of N$6 360 184.70 invoiced in legal fees.
The contention came about when Shikongo Law Chambers was approached by Anhui in 2016 to be the company’s legal representative in the case against the Namibia Airports Company (NAC).
The appointment was made before a High Court ruling in September 2016 set aside government’s decision, directing the NAC to stop the tender for the upgrading of the international airport.
President Hage Geingob and the ministers of finance and works appealed the High Court judgement in the Supreme Court, which later found that the airport tender was non-procedurally awarded.
The firm had proposed that it be appointed in collaboration with an associate firm, Tjombe-Elago Incorporated.
This was because Shikongo Law Chambers had previously represented the NAC.
The local firm said the Chinese company had agreed to the request and gave the go-ahead to appoint Tjombe-Elago Incorporated as co-operative legal practitioners during the tender cancellation appeal stage.
On its part, Anhui disputing entering into a verbal agreement with Shikongo Law Chambers for the rendering of services, saying the firm failed to comply with High Court rules in terms of stating when, where and by whom the agreement (s) was/were concluded.
The company also dismissed that the invoice submitted for court records “does not, on face value, reflect a joint invoice, for and on behalf of the plaintiff”.