High Court restores Horizon’s application to dismiss State’s bill of cost in acquisition case

THE Lusaka High Court has restored to the active cause list the application by Horizon Education Trust Limited to dismiss the Bill of costs demanded by the State.

This is according to an ex-parte order to restore application to dismiss bill of costs to the active cause list granted to Horizon School.

“Upon Hearing counsel for the applicant and upon reading the affidavit in support thereof, it is hereby ordered that the application to dismiss bill of costs be and is hereby restored to the active cause list,” ordered registrar Ruth Chilembo.

This is in a matter where Horizon School is seeking leave to apply for judicial review to challenge President Edgar Lungu’s decision to repossess its land.

The school has cited the Attorney General in the matter over President Lungu’s decision to compulsorily acquire stand number KABUL-N69565/196 Kabulonga where Horizon school is premised.

On April 23, 2020, the State filed a bill of costs claiming that the school owes it K256,240.54 as costs in a matter which it earlier discontinued.

According to a notice of taxation of costs pursuant to Order 40 Rule 2 of the High Court Act chapter 27 of the Zambian laws, the State demanded K256,240.54 from Horizon School to be taxed by the court.

The bill of costs was broken down as follows: “Attending to receive court process K1,544.25, 30 minutes; attending to draft letter requesting for instructions, K1, 544.25, 30 minutes; attending to research into the law K36,414, for 12 hours; attending to draft memorandum of appearance, affidavit and skeleton arguments for 12 hours K46,184.4; and attending to research into the law, K24,276 for eight hours.”

“Attending to prepare summons affidavit and skeleton arguments for 12 hours, K36,414; attending to file summons, affidavit and skeleton arguments for 30 minutes, K1,924.35; attending to serve affidavit in support and list of authorities for 30 minutes, K1,517; attending to prepare bill of costs for three hours, K19,243.5. Total profit K174,600.57, general fees for letters, pretties, messengers, incidents etc at 15 per cent of the total bill, K26,190.0855, total K200,790.65.

“VAT at 16 per cent is 32,155.30; total 232,945.95 Taxing fee at 10 per cent K23,294.59 and the Grand Total being K256,240.54.”

High Court judge Getrude Chawatama had suspended proceedings in the matter and ordered Horizon School to pay the state costs it incurred in a matter where the school discontinued a lawsuit against the state under cause number 2019/HP/1867.

Horizon Education Trust limited however asked the Court to dismiss the bill of costs by the state.

Horizon School argued that there was no decision, judgment or order delivered by the court which had ordered the State to tax costs in the matter.

According to summons to dismiss bill of costs pursuant to order 14A Rule 1 of the rules of the Supreme Court of England White Book edition, Horizon School wants the court to throw out the State’s bill of costs filed on April 23, 2020 for want of jurisdiction.

On June 20, 2020, the school’s application to dismiss the State’s bill of costs was struck out with liberty to restore within seven days.

In an affidavit in support of summons to restore application to dismiss bill of costs to the active cause list, lawyer representing Horizon School Susan Phiri explained that the failure to attend on the part of the applicant’s advocates was not intentional as counsel in conduct of the matter was unwell on the material day and the non-attendance was not deliberate or in any way intended to disrespect the court.

Phiri said the applicant was unable to make alternative arrangements to have another advocate as they had prior scheduled engagements before the Constitutional Court.

“The applicant has never failed to attend or undertake any steps relating to the application timeously and has acted with diligence and courtesy throughout the course of the application,” Phiri said.

She further explained that it was the first time the applicant was unable to attend due to circumstances beyond its control.

The matter comes up on October 26 for hearing of the applicant’s application seeking to have the bill of costs dismissed to be restored to the active cause list.

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