Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited has asked the Lusaka High Court to dismiss, with costs, the application by ZCCM Investments Holdings in which it is seeking leave to appeal the court’s decision to stay the winding-up proceedings against Konkola Copper Mine (KCM).
On August 27, this year, High Court judge Annesie Banda-Bobo stayed the winding-up proceedings that ZCCM-IH has instituted against KCM, pending Vedanta’s appeal to the Court of Appeal against the court’s refusal to refer parties to arbitration.
But ZCCM-IH, through its lawyers Shamwana and Company, sought an ex-parte order for leave to appeal judge Banda-Bobo’s decision to stay the winding-up proceedings.
This is the matter in which ZCCM-IH has petitioned the Lusaka High Court seeking an order that KCM should be wound-up for engaging in tax evasion and being managed in a manner detrimental to its interest, among other allegations.
Vedanta, however, wants the application by ZCCM-IH to be dismissed with costs for being incompetently before court.
In skeleton arguments in opposition to skeleton arguments in support of application for leave to appeal, Vedanta submitted that ZCCM-IH had proposed two grounds of appeal upon which it relied on in challenging the court’s ruling.
It added that Order X Rule 4 of the Court of Appeal Rules bestowed the High Court the jurisdiction to make an order to grant or refuse leave to the Court of Appeal.
Vedanta further stated that it was indisputable that judge Banda-BoBo had the discretion to grant or not grant leave to appeal, but submitted that “this court is limited in certain instances in which it can exercise this discretion, and the case at hand is one such case where this honorable court cannot grant leave to appeal.”
It argued that a party could not appeal from an order staying proceedings before it, adding that it was evidently clear from the ratio of the Supreme Court that when proceedings had been stayed without any reservations as the current case, no further action or steps could be taken in those proceedings until the happening of the event for which the proceedings were stayed, in this case the hearing and determination of the appeal.
“We submit, my Lady, that quite rightly so, the appeal having prospects of success is a key consideration for the grant of a stay. We, however, submit that prospect of success is not the only consideration that the court is entitled to look at before making a grant of stay. It is our humble submission that the grant of a stay of proceedings is an entirely discretionary remedy, and notwithstanding, the court finding that the contributor (Vedanta)’s grounds of appeal lacked prospects of success, (which it submitted in any event is not correct), the court found that the grounds raised novel issues warranting the determination by the Supreme Court (Court of Appeal),” argued Vedanta.
“It is our view that this point sufficed as being ‘more’, which entitled the court to the exercise of its discretion, which we submit was properly and judiciously exercised in the extempore ruling of August 27, 2019.”
Vedanta prayed that the court dismisses ZCCM-IH’s application with costs for being incompetently before court.