Ruling reserved in K14m DBZ case

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THE High Court has reserved ruling on whether to allow the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) to amend the statement of claim and join Post Newspapers editor-in-chief Fred M’membe to the proceedings in which the institution is demanding repayment of a K14 million loan.

In this case, DBZ has taken JCN Holdings, the Post Newspapers and defunct Zambian Airways to court demanding the repayment of a K14 million loan.
The DBZ has asked the court to join Mr M’membe, suspended Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito and Mines Air Services to the proceedings and also to amend the statement of claim.

Lawyers representing the bank argued that the application to add defendants cannot be prevented from being heard and that the law is clear that amendments may be made at any stage of the proceedings.
This is aimed at making Mr M’membe, Mr Nchito and his brother, Nchima, personally liable for the loan by virtue of their directorship of Zambian Airways.
They contended that it cannot be reasonably argued that adding the proposed additional defendants would not help the court in disposing of all issues arising.
“Or indeed that the commencement of a separate action against them would not constitute a multiplicity of actions and even forum shopping. We, therefore, submit that the court may entertain the application for joinder,” they said.
They also argued that the defendants have not provided the court with any legal backing why it should not lift the corporate veil of the companies.
“The evidence relating to the roles, actions and representations of the proposed defendants in the transactions that form subject of this action are central to the question of liability,” they said.
It was also argued that the amendments are a mere modification, development or variation of the claims already filed in the proceedings in an effort to cure the defect of omitting the principal debtors and also to elucidate the facts in issue.
However, the defendants opposed the application questioning the legality of amending a writ and statement of claim by adding causes of action which will affect them when such causes are statute-barred.
High Court judge Justin Chashi reserved ruling in the matter to the next three weeks.