LUSAKA High Court Judge Catherine Lombe Phiri has granted Lusaka lawyer Linda Kasonde’s law firm, LCK Chambers, permission to withdraw as advocates for Prime Television.
This is in a matter where the television station is challenging government’s decision to cease all cooperation with it.
“The application for LCK Chambers to withdraw as advocates for the petitioner is granted. There’s no order as to costs,” Justice Phiri said in her ruling.
In this matter, Prime Television has petitioned the Lusaka High Court for an order quashing Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya’s decision to cease all cooperation with the station.
The television station, which has cited the Attorney General, TopStar Communications Company Limited and Multichoice Zambia Limited as respondents, is seeking an order declaring government’s decision to cease all transactions and business with it, unconstitutional.
Prime Television further wants an order that all media houses have the right to access and disseminate information from government without undue hindrances and an order that TopStar and Multichoice Zambia cannot remove it from their platforms at the direction of government.
LCK Chambers had, however, applied for leave to withdraw as advocates for Prime Television in the matter due to receiving insufficient instructions.
This was according to an affidavit in support of summons for an order for leave to withdraw as advocates sworn by Kasonde.
“I am counsel on record representing the petitioner (Prime Television) under the name and style of LCK Chambers. That we have ceased to receive sufficient instructions from the petitioner, and as such, we would like to withdraw from the record,” she stated.
Last month Lusaka High Court Judge, Catherine Lombe Phiri ordered that the proceedings be stayed and accordingly referred the case to arbitration.
This was after Topstar applied to have the matter stayed and referred to arbitration.
It argued that the arbitration clause had not been exhausted by Prime TV and that the proceedings were, therefore, in conflict with the said clause and, thus, improperly before court.
Topstar stated that the relationship between it and Prime TV was commercial in nature and governed by a Service Level Agreement.
It submitted that where an arbitration clause is contained in an agreement and a party decides to institute court proceedings, then the said party would be said to be in breach of the Agreement.
However, Prime Television’s proprietor Gerald Shawa asked the Court to proceed and hear the matter on its merit.
He argued that the Service Level Agreement between the Television station and TopStar was a commercial dispute agreement.
Shawa submitted that TopStar did not invoke the Arbitration clause when it wrote to the television station on March 27, this year, informing it that it was being removed from the TopStar platform following a directive from the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services that all government institutions should desist from engaging with Prime TV.
He added that the Service Level Agreement between the station and TopStar did not extend to constitutional matters such as the ones before court.
But ruling on the same, Justice Phiri granted TopStar its application to stay proceedings and refer the matter to arbitration.