Attribution of Costs

Otjozondu Mine (Pty) Ltd v Purity Manganese (Pty) Ltd (A 140/08) [2011] NAHC 8 (26 January 2011);

Headnote and Holding: 

This matter dealt with a dispute as to whether there was illegal mining by the respondent on the applicant’s exclusive prospecting licence.
The High Court considered whether expert evidence was required to establish a cause of action. The relevant test was whether a witness proffering an opinion is competent to give one on the matter in dispute. In this case, the court considered that only a land surveyor would be competent to determine the precise boundaries of disputed land. The applicant’s witness was a geologist and not a land surveyor. Accordingly, the court held that expert evidence of a land surveyor was necessary and failure to present it was fatal.
The court also considered whether it was permissible for the applicant to introduce new evidence in the replying papers. The court relied on the principle that in motion proceedings the affidavits constitute both the pleadings and the evidence. Furthermore, the applicant could not substitute a different claim in the replying papers. Accordingly, the court did not consider the evidence of the land surveyor tendered by the applicant during motion proceedings.
Finally, the court considered whether to impose a special costs order against the applicant on the scale as between attorney and own client. The principle followed was that punitive costs should only be awarded in exceptional circumstances. The court considered that there was no demonstrable reprehensible conduct by the applicant. Accordingly, the costs only include the costs of one instructing and one instructed counsel.

Kamanja v Smith t/a W.A.S Smith Drilling ((P) I 467/2008) ((P) I 467/2008) [2009] NAHC 91 (26 November 2009);

Headnote and Holding: 

The plaintiff in this case claimed restitution for a breach of contract. The court determined whether the defendant was in breach of contract for failing to install a working borehole in a geohydrological environment where the plaintiff's farm was located.

The defendant raised a counterclaim that the plaintiff had accepted that work was completed but failed to pay the balance of the agreed amount. The court applied the rule in Du Plessis v Ndjavera that the plaintiff is under no obligation to perform before defendant has completed his performance. 

The court held that the defendant was at fault for failing to assess the soil formation in the area and ended up using the incorrect drilling method. The court observed that the defendant admitted to using the riskier direct flush air percussion instead of the mud rotary method to save on expenses and thus failed to complete performance. 

Accordingly, the court held that the defendant was in breach of contract and the plaintiff was entitled to cancel the
agreement and claim restitution. The counterclaim was also dismissed with costs.

Gemfarm Investments (Pty) Ltd v Trans Hex Group Ltd and Another (P I 445/2005) [2009] NAHC 24 (07 April 2009);

Headnote and Holding: 

The plaintiff claimed that it was patentee and registered proprietor of an invention for the "method of, and apparatus for, underwater mining of mineral deposits known as a "pebble jetting system.” The plaintiff alleged that the defendants infringed on its patent by using integers of its invention in another invention, resulting in financial loss to the plaintiff. The defence argued that the Patents and Designs Proclamation, No. 17 of 1923 upon which the plaintiff relied for the registration of its patent had been repealed by the South African Patents Act, No 37 of 1952 and was therefore no longer in force in Namibia and that the union Act in s18 of the proclamation was to become main legislative piece for patents.

The court therefore had to decide whether the Patent proclamation was still in force and determine the legitimacy of the granting of the patent and the meaning of Union Act in the proclamation.

The court found that that the provisions of the proclamation under which the patent in issue had been granted, were not repealed or amended by the 1952 Act and were valid by virtue of Article 140(1) of the Constitution. Secondly, that the extent to which the Union Act had been applied to the law of patents in the Territory stemmed from s.5 of the Proclamation and, although it applied the Union Act to a wide range of specified matters, it did not apply to applications for the granting of patents. The matter was dismissed with costs.

Namibia Water Corporation Limited v Aussenkehr Farms (Pty) Ltd (Case No.: I 1286/2005 ) [2009] NAHC 1 (09 January 2009);

Headnote and Holding: 

The matter dealt with an alleged breach of contract that required the plaintiff to supply large amounts of water to the defendantís wine farm. The contract contained two main clauses namely, that the defendant would reimburse the plaintiff a maximum of N$300000 for obtaining tenders and  would design and construct the bulk water supply scheme in the absence of an alternative agreement.

The plaintiff contended that the agreement was never entered into despite the work being carried out and as a result, they were entitled to reimbursement because the defendant breached the two main clauses of the contract. In response, the defendant alleged that the plaintiff was vicariously guilty of breach of contract as a result of which the defendant says it terminated contract.

The main question before the court was whether the plaintiff was vicariously guilty of breach of contract which resulted in the defendantís termination of the contract and in the alternative. The court also considered whether the respondent would be required to pay for the work done as per the agreement. 

The court found that no such breach existed and that had there been a breach, the defendant, would have been required to communicate termination of the contract which it failed to do. The court concluded that the reliance on an alleged oral agreement had not been proved by facts ëíin the clearest and most satisfactory manneríí. The court found in favour of the applicant.

Hepute and Others v Minister of Mines and Energy and Another (SA5/2007) [2008] NASC 16 (31 October 2008);

Headnote and Holding: 

This was an appeal to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the High Court that ordered the appellants to pay security for the costs of the second respondent. The second respondent had opposed an application brought against it by the appellants in the High Court challenging the renewal of an exclusive prospecting licence (EPL 2101) issued by the first respondent in terms of the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act 33 of 1992. The second respondent then filed an application for security in terms of Rule 47(1) as read with Rule 47(3) of the Rules of the High Court, on the basis that the appellants were persons of no or insufficient means to meet an adverse costs order in their main application and further that the appellants were fronts for parties who had been involved in prior litigation with the second respondent.

The Supreme Court relied on various authorities and emphasised that a court of appeal should not interfere with the exercise of the lower court’s discretion. The court saw no basis on which to interfere with the decision of the High Court that the appellants were persons of straw and that they had been put up as a front for others engaged in prior litigation with the applicant. The appeal was dismissed with costs and the second respondent was awarded the wasted costs occasioned by the abandonment by the appellants of the application in terms of Rule 18 of the Rules of the Court.

Trade Line Namibia (Pty) Ltd v Nambib Resources (Pty) Ltd and Another (SA3/03 ) [2003] NASC 14 (12 August 2003);

Headnote and Holding: 

This was an appeal against the decision of the court a quo, which dismissed an urgent application on the ground that the application was not urgent. 

The court dealt with the requirements for a judgment to be appealable. The court relied on the Erasmus Superior Court Practice, A1 – 43 in formulating the requirements. First, the decision must be final in nature and not capable of alteration by the court hearing the matter. Secondly, the decision must be definitive of the rights of the parties, through granting a definite and distinct relief. Lastly, it must have the effect of disposing a substantial portion of the relief claimed in the main proceedings. 

Relying on Lubambi v Presbyterian Church of Africa, the court further found that the ruling that a matter is urgent and must procced on that basis, was found not to be an appealable ‘judgment or order’ and such an order is similar to an order giving direction in regard to evidence, or referring a matter to trial. It is therefore not appealable.

In removing the matter from the roll with costs, the court held that the case was concerned with procedure and not the substance of the application.