Chinthunzi v First Capital Bank (Commercial Case No. 1 of 2019) [2019] MWCommC 9 (09 August 2019);

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF MALAWI

COMMERCIAL DIVISION

Blantyre Registry

Commercial Case No.  01 of 2019

{Before Honourable Justice Dr. Mtambo}

 

BETWEEN

 

CHISOMO    CHITHODWE    CHINTHUNZI .................................................................................CLAIMANT

 

AND

 

FIRST CAPITAL BANK..........................................................................................................DEFENDANT

 

CORAM: D.H. SANKHULANI, ESQ., ASSISTANT REGISTRAR

Mr.   E. Dzimphonje, of Counsel for the Claimant (receiving costs)

Defendant (paying costs), Absent

Mr. A. Nyirongo, Court Clerk

 

 

Sankhulani, AR

ORDER ON TAXATION OF PARTY AND PARTY COSTS

Introduction

This order follows hearing of proceedings for taxation of party and party costs that was held herein.

Background Information

The Claimant commenced the present action against the Defendant.

Eventually, a default judgment was entered herein, on account of there being no notice of intention to defend on the part of the Defendant.

The said default judgment, inter alias, condemned the Defendant in costs of this action. Accordingly, the Claimant filed the present bill of costs.

Hearing of the present proceedings for assessment of costs took place in the Defendant's absence, since there was proof of service of the notice of appointment to tax costs on it. At the hearing of the taxation proceedings, the Claimant adopted her bill of costs in its entirety. The matter was then adjourned to today's date for an order on taxation of costs, since the Court had elected to tax every item of the bill, despite the absence of the Defendant. Hence the present order.

Issues for Determination herein

  • Counsel's hourly rate apposite herein.
  • The appropriate quantum of costs herein.

Counsel's Hourly Rate Apposite Herein

This matter was alternately handled by Mr. B. Ndau of over 20 years standing at the Malawian Bar and Mr. E. Dzimphonje of less than 10 years standing at the Bar. The former claims the expense rate of K 40, 000.00 per hour, as prescribed under the Legal Practitioners (Hourly Expense Rates for Purposes of Taxing Party and Party Costs) Rules 2018. The latter claims the expense rate of K 30, 000 per hour, also as prescribed under the Legal Practitioners (Hourly Expense Rates for Purposes of Taxing Party and Party Costs) Rules 2018. There is no counter-proposal from the Defendant, since, as it has been mentioned above, it  did not attend hearing  of these proceedings.

The Legal Practitioners (Hourly Expense Rates for Purposes of Taxing Party and Party Costs) Rules 2018 came into force on 1st January 2019. The present action was commenced on 7th January, 2019. That means that all of Counsel's work in this matter, the subject of the present taxation, was done after 1st January 2019. I so find. Therefore, it follows that the current prescribed expense rates apply to the present bill as a whole. I so hold.

In view of the foregoing, I hereby order that the expense rates of K 40, 000 per hour and K 30, 000 per hour, for Mr. Ndau and Mr. Dzimphonje, respectively, be, and are hereby, adopted, for purposes of the present taxation of party and party costs.

The Appropriate Quantum of Costs Herein

There are two bases on which costs may be taxed, namely standard basis and indemnity basis (Order 31 rule 4(1) of the Courts (High Court) (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017).

Where an order for costs is made without indicating the basis on which the costs are to be taxed, costs will always be taxed on the standard basis (Order 31 rule 4(4) of the Courts (High Court) (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017.

In the present matter, the relevant order for costs did not indicate the basis on which the same are to be taxed. It follows, therefore, that the costs herein shall be taxed on the standard basis. Where costs are to be taxed on the standard basis, the court only allows costs which are proportionate to the matters in issue and resolves any doubt which it may have as to whether costs were reasonably incurred or reasonable and proportionate in amount in favour of the paying party (Order 31 rule 4(2) of the Courts (High Court) (Civil Procedure} Rules 2017).

In taxing costs, the court takes into account the conduct of all the parties, the amount or value  of any money or property involved, the importance of the matter to all  the  parties,  the  particular complexity of  the  matter or the difficulty or novelty  of the  questions raised, the  skill or effort or specialized knowledge or responsibility involved, the time spent on the case and the place where and the circumstances in which work or any part of it was done (Order 31 rule 5(3) of the Courts (High Court} (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017). Accordingly, bearing in mind the principles outlined above and the Claimant's submissions, I hereby tax party and party costs herein as follows:

 

 

DATE

 

ITEM

 

NARRATIVE & TIME/%AGE CLAIMED

 

DISBURSEMENTS

ALLOWED

 

TIME/%AGE

GRANTED

 

FEES     IN

KWACHA

07/01/19

 

On    7th    day  of  January,   2019   the   Claimant

 

 

 

 

 

  commenced this   action   by   Injunction. The

 

 

 

 

 

matter   was   not   defended   and   the   Claimant

 

 

 

 

 

entered   default  Judgment  for   the   claimed

 

 

 

 

 

amount,  interest  and  costs. The  court Ordered

 

 

 

 

 

that costs  be  for  the  Claimant, which  are  to be

 

 

 

 

 

assessed   through   the   present   assessment    of

 

 

 

 

 

costs.

 

 

 

 

 

APPLICABLE HOURLY RATES HEREIN

 

 

 

 

 

Counsel Bernard Ndau and Edward Dzimphonje

 

 

 

 

 

at Winlaw & Ndau handled the  matter.

 

 

 

 

 

For  Counsel Bernard Ndau, the applicable rate  is

 

 

 

 

 

K.40, 000.00 per hour, as above determined.   For

 

 

 

 

 

Counsel   Edward   Dzirnphonje,   the   applicable

 

 

 

 

 

hourly  rate  is  MK30,  000.00  per  hour,  also as

 

 

 

 

 

above determined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART  A

 

 

 

 

 

PREPARATION

 

 

 

 

 

i)   THE  CLIENT

 

 

 

 

 

Counsel Bernard  Ndau took time to examine  the

 

 

 

 

 

documents   supporting  the  claim  and   analyzed

 

 

 

 

 

the    applicable    law   on    contract,   breach   of

 

 

 

 

 

agreement  and  further  the  law  on  interest  and

 

 

 

 

 

any  other  relevant  document  in  preparation  of

 

Taxed     off     for

 

 

 

the matter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...3 hrs.

 

being redundant

 

 

 

Counsel  Bernard  Ndau  held  various conference

 

 

 

 

meetings       w'ith      client      to      obtain      detailed instructions    and   met   the   client   as   well   as

 

 

 

potential witnesses and to obtain full  instructions. The meetings were held on more  than five occasions. Counsel carefully  studied  and was  briefed  on  all the  documents  the client

 

 

 

 

120 min

 

 

 

80,000

 

 

brought for      .. .. . ... .. . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . ... . . 4 hrs.

 

 

 

 

  1. OTHER PARTIES

 

Counsel  Edward  Dzimphonje  corresponded with the Claimant and other stakeholders such as the matters including obtaining evidence and collecting and presenting documents for  record  in court .. . .. . . . . .. . .. .. . ... ... ... .. . .. .....  .. 5 hours

 

  1. DOCUMENTS

 

Counsel Bernard Ndau drafted an Inter parte Summons for interlocutory Injunction, Sworn Statement in support, Skeleton arguments and Order for an Injunction . . . ....... ... ...... 3 hours

 

Counsel Dzimphonje and Counsel Ndau drafted the summons of case, sworn Statement ID support and List of Documents. ... .. .... 3 hrs

 

Counsel Edward Dzimphonje drafted and issued Sworn Statement of Service... ..... . . .30 minutes

 

Counsel Edward Dzimphonje drafted and issued Application for default judgment, swam statement in support and actual orders on default judgment . . ... . .. . . ..... ... . . . . . ... ....  2 hours

 

 

iv)  Inspection.

 

Counsel Edward Dzimphonje took instructions, attended to and corresponded with the client on the strategies and requirements of the action and further inspected the documents relating to the case . . .. . ..... .. .. . .. ... . .. .... . .. . . .. . ... .... .. 3 hrs .

 

 

vi)  Research and Reading

Counsel Edward Dzimphonje guided himself properly before preparing all the court documents from the Defence to the trial Bundle. Before, during and up to the imposition of the matter some of the authorities that were read  were the following:

 

  • SGS Blantyre (pvt) Limited v Marihno [1999] MLR. 375
  • Chirwa v Kaunda t/a Chika Building contractors [1993] MLR 502

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

60min

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30,000

 

 

07/01/19

 

 

 

 

180 min

 

120,000

07/01/19

 

 

 

180 min

90,000

11/01/19

 

30min

 

15,000

20/02/19

 

 

 

 

60min

 

30,000

 

 

 

 

Taxed off for

 

 

being redundant

 

 

and unjustified

 

 

 

 

 

  • McCutcheon v David MacBrayne Limited [1964] 1 WLR 123
  • Karim & Sons v AMI Rennie Press (Malawi) Limited 12 MLR (HC) 91
  • Ndasowanjira Art Studio v Casalee Cargo Limited (1991] (HC) 14 MLR. 367
  • Kapelemera v Duwe Motors Civil cause No. 1278 of 1998
  • Kamwaza Design Partnership v The Electoral Commission, Commercial case No.

45 of2008

  • Mpinganjira v The Speaker of National Assembly [2000- 2001) MLR. 318
  • Cane Products Limited v S E Kaonga t/ a E &  E Civil Engineering and Attorney

General Civil Cause no. 605/ 2004

 

BOOKS:

  • Halsbury's Law of England 4th edtion Volume 9
  • Chitty 011  contracts
  • Cheshire and Fifoot Law on Contract 9th

Edition

-     Bullen and Leak, drafting

 

Total hours of books and case authorities read   ......................................(5  hrs)

 

 

 

SUBTOTAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

300 min

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

150,000

 

 

 

515,000

 

 

 

 

 

i

 

 

 

 

 

 

I

 

 

 

PART B

 

The case involved perusal of many documents and the law was unique because of the nature of the parties' transactions.

 

Counsel Ndau and Dzimphonje exercised great care being 50% of part A hereof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50% of Part A Granted

 

257,500

 

 

 

SUBTOTAL

 

 

 

257,500

 

 

 

PART C

 

 

 

 

ATTENDANCE

 

 

 

COURT ATTENDANCES ON

 

 

 

ADJOURNMENTS, AND ASSESSMENT.

 

 

07/01/19

Counsel  Dzimphonje  attended  court  for  an ex­

 

 

 

parte         application         for        an                  IDJunction

 

 

 

.... .. .. .. . . . ... . .. . .. ... ... . . . . ... ...... .. 30 minutes

15 min

7,500

11/01/19

Counsel Bernard  Ndau  and Edward Dzimphonje

 

 

 

attended court for the heating of an inter   patty

 

 

 

injunction .. . . . . .. ... .....  . ... ... .. . ... 30 minutes

2min

1,333.33

15/04/19

Counsel Edward Dzimphonje attended court for

 

 

 

application                            for                                                default

 

 

 

judgment.................................   30    minutes.

15.min

7,500

 

 

 

TRAYELLING AND WAITING

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ndau

20min Dzimphonje

40min

 

Taxed     off                 for being inapplicable

 

Counsel   traveled   to  High   Court  Commercial

 

Registry  on  7tti January  2019, 11th January 2019

 

and 7th May 2019 totaling to 3 trips

13,333.33

a)      Spent   a    total   30   minutes    on   travelling

. ... ... . .. . .. ... . ... .... . .. . .... .... .. . . . ... . 1.5 bouts

20,000

b)         General   Care  and   Conduct   being  50%

 

hereof.

 

 

 

 

SUB-TOTAL

 

 

 

49,666.66

 

 

 

 

 

PARTD

 

 

 

 

DISBURSEMENTS:

 

Stationery, photocopying, secretarial work, messengerial services, transport, swearing, filing, telephones, etc.

 

Fuel expenses and wear and tear.  (trips  to the

High Court, Principal Registry)

 

 

 

 

 

228,000

 

 

20,000

 

 

 

 

 

SUBTOTAL

 

248,000

 

 

 

 

 

PARTE

 

 

 

TAXATION

 

 

Counsel  Edward  Dzimphonje  prepatcd  this bill

 

 

for  taxation,  obtaining appointment  for taxation

 

 

and attending the same for................ 1 hour

60 ruin

30,000

General  care  and conduct  being 50%  hereof  as

 

 

brief fees

50% Granted

15,000

 

 

 

SUBTOTAL

 

 

 

 

45,000

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SUMMARY:

Professional    (A+B+C+E)                            MK      867, 166.66

Add 16.5% V.A.T                                            MK      143, 082.50

Add Disbursements D                                     MK       248, 000.00

TOTAL COSTS                                              MK    1, 258, 249.16

Final Order

I  view  of  the   foregoing  taxation,  the  party  and  party  costs  herein  are  hereby  taxed     at K l, 258, 249.16.

The Defendant shall file a certificate of taxation for issuing.

Delivered in Chambers at Blantyre Registry of the Commercial Division of the High Court this 9thday of August 2019.

 

D.H. SANKHULANI

ASSISTANT REGISTRAR