Stanbic Bank Zambia has refused to honour the contract it entered into with Savenda management services to pay K7.6 million.
Savenda Management has therefore sued Stanbic demanding an order for the immediate payment of the balance of more than K7.6 million, an order for damages of breach of contract, interest and costs.
Here is what happened.
On 13 February 2014, Savenda sued Stanbic claiming K192 million damages for loss of business, an order that Savenda be immediately de listed from the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB), damages for loss of business and profits, damages for negligence and damages for injury to business reputation. This was after Stanbic negligently listed Savenda on the Credit Reference Bureau.
On August 17, 2016, the high court found Stanbic bank Zambia ltd guilty of negligence and ordered the bank to compensate Savenda K192 million. Stanbic dilly-dallied to pay prompting Savenda to send bailiefs to seize the bank’s assets in order to get its money. The court bailiffs seized the bank’s goods sufficient to realise the judgement debt and any related expenses.
Stanbic was forced to negotiate with Savenda to stop the bailiffs from grabbing the bank’s servers and vehicles.
On September 21,2016 Stanbic negotiated with Savend’s lawyers at the time to stop the execution and entered into an agreement for the following:
That K9.625 million was to be paid towards the judgement sum inclusive of legal costs, the sheriff’s fees was to be paid and the process of de listing Savenda from the CRB was to begin,” it stated.
Relying on Stanbic’s undertaking to stop the execution against the seizure of goods and having paid K2 million towards the agreed K9.265 million, Savenda instructed the sheriffs to stop the execution.
But that was the end of the story. Stanbic bank Zambia then refused to cooperate or make the contractual payments when they fell due.
“In consequence of the failure by the defendant to make the payment when they fell due, the plaintiff has suffered loss and damage,” Savenda told the court in October 2019.
In response to Savenda’s demands in court, Stanbic Bank’s current lawyers, Eric Silwamba, Jalasi, and Linyama have resorted to doing what they know best: looking for loopholes and other minor errors in the documents. In Zambia there are lawyers who just can’t argue the substantive law. They will spend nights and days looking for errors in spellings, what time the file had been submitted etc then say ‘it was wrongly submitted’. In this case, the issue is that Stanbic entered into a binding contract with Savenda but after deriving the benefit of the contract refused to pay.
But Silwamba and his boys say the originating process filed by Savenda was irregular as it offends the provisions of Order 18 Rule 19 sub Rule 38 of the Supreme Court (White Book) . Remember last time we documented how Silwamba’s company boasts that it writes the rules of the courts in Zambia?
Silwamba and company said that the action by Savenda was an abuse of court process as it was anchored on a cause of action that had already been litigated upon, rendering the action scandalous, frivolous, vexatious and offensive to the provisions of Order 18 rule 19 sub Rule 15 and Sub Rule 16 of the Supreme Court (White Book 1965, Volume 11 1999 edition.
“Consequently, the purported originating process is irregular and must be dismissed and costs of and incidental to these proceedings be borne by the plaintiff in any event,” Silwamba and company told the court.
You see, this is how lawyers like Silwamba avoid arguing on issues at hand. If you go to court and by human error you forget to put one digit on your address, your case can be dismissed from court as long as the lawyer for your rival is Eric Silwamba. And courts would agree with such injustice because Silwamba writes their rules, which courts must follow and obey.
The issue in the case is about a contractual obligation which Stanbic entered and benefited from.
Contracts should not be entered into for convenience or to cheat the other party.
Courts should enforce and not interfere in properly signed contracts.
This is because strong contract enforcement measures enhance the stability of commercial relationships, thereby reducing the uncertainty associated with doing business because both businesses and individuals will be assured that their previously negotiated contractual rights are enforceable in Zambian courts.