KBL wants top executives spared in contempt suit
Friday April 28 2023
Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) has pleaded with a judge to suspend an application seeking to have its senior executives charged for alleged contempt of court in a fight with a former distributor.
KBL together with UDV (Kenya) Ltd said Bia Tosha has filed the application at the High Court seeking summons against its officials, among them East African Breweries Limited (EABL) chief executive Jane Karuku, to appear in court for punishment.
Through senior counsel Njoroge Regeru, KBL said there is a risk that the case might be fixed for hearing yet they have filed an application for review of the judgment issued on February 17 at the Supreme Court.
“In view of the foregoing, it is clear that the petitioner’s (Bia Tosha) applications are intended to pre-empt the outcome of the review application pending before the Supreme Court and to defeat any decision that the Supreme Court might make pursuant to the said application,” Mr Regeru said.
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi directed the case be mentioned on Friday for directions.
Ms Karuku together with Andrew Kilonzo, the managing director of Uganda Breweries Ltd, want the apex court to review the decision issued in February, saying the court condemned them unheard.
Also named in the case is former EABL managing director Andrew Cowan.
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Mr Kilonzo says in an affidavit that they have never been served with any contempt of court application, at the High Court, Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court, yet a serious charge has been made against them.
The distributor has sought to commit the three senior officials of EABL to civil jail for six months, for allegedly disobeying court orders in a long-running court battle.
The former EABL distributor has also sought to be paid damages amounting to Sh1.073 billion.
Bia Tosha accuses KBL of terminating its distributorship contract entered between them in 2006.
The matter escalated to the Supreme Court, which in February ruled in favour of Bia Tosha and sent the matter back to the High Court for a hearing of the contempt of court application against KBL officials.
In the review, KBL has accused the distributor of deliberately concealing some facts about the matter, thereby misleading the Supreme Court to make the contempt of court decision, without giving them an opportunity to be heard. Mr Regeru said the application for review is pending hearing and all parties have filed their responses.
He said there is a real danger that the executives might be condemned unheard and imprisoned since Bia Tosha was pressing on with contempt proceedings.
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“Notably, the review application seeks, among other things, an order staying the very contempt proceedings that the petitioner has improperly brought before this court. This is therefore one of the issues that the Supreme Court has to rule on,” Mr Regeru submitted.