|Firm files US$818 000 lawsuit against Old Mutual|
|Friday, 27 July 2012 00:00|
OLD Mutual Investments Group is being sued at the High Court by one of its tenants for about US$800 000 after the firm allegedly disconnected electricity. Santiago Pharmacy that operates at Eastgate in the capital, an Old Mutual property, wants Old Mutual to pay US$818 000 in damages.
The company claimed it suffered such damages after the property firm allegedly disconnected power. Old Mutual has denied liability arguing that it was entitled to act in the manner it did to recover money owed.
In papers filed at the High Court, Santiago Pharmacy submitted that Old Mutual disconnected electricity from January 2010 to March 2012, resulting in its stock, including drugs, being wasted.
“The disconnection meant that the plaintiff’s stock was destroyed since most of it is perishable. Consequently the plaintiff lost business as a result of the disconnection,” said Santiago, which is being represented by Mr Ralph Maganga of Maganga and Partners.
In its initial response, Old Mutual requested for further particulars. It asked whether electricity was the only source of light and how the disconnection of electricity was being linked to loss of business. It also wanted to know what measures were taken to minimise damages.
In its subsequent response, Old Mutual said the pharmacy owed it money in rentals and all utility bills to the tune of US$39 000.
The firm said it had no knowledge that power was disconnected by its employees or its agents and wants the plaintiff to give evidence to that effect.
“In the alternative, the defendant was entitled to disconnect electricity for non-payment of the electricity bills by the plaintiff to ensure that it pays for what it consumed.
“The plaintiff failed to pay for electricity and it was not entitled to continue consuming electricity without paying,” argued Old Mutual, represented by Costa and Madzonga law firm.
Old Mutual went on to make a counter claim that Santiago had accrued arrears to the tune of US$175 000 and implored the court to make an order evicting it.
But Santiago responded saying the counter-claim was bad at law since it did not arise from the same cause of action. It was submitted on behalf of Santiago that Old Mutual was claiming arrears in rentals, while the plaintiff was claiming damages in loss of revenue as a result of the defendant’s disconnection.
“The defendant’s claim for utility bill arrears is bad at law for it has no locus standi to claim those charges on behalf of Zesa and City of Harare. Neither power of attorney nor special resolution has been provided by defendant to show on what authority, defendant is claiming utility bills arrears on behalf of the said authorities,” said Santiago.