By MACHARIA KAMAU
A 14-year partnership between Kenya Wine Agencies (Kwal) and South African wine producer, Distell Wine Masters Ltd is turning into a battle of wits with the two firms unable to severe links amicably.
When the issue came up for hearing on Monday, Distell raised objection as to whether the High Court in Kenya had jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The judge gave a date of October 2, for hearing of the preliminary objection regarding jurisdiction and further extended the status quo order restraining Distell from distributing or marketing any products covered by agreement with Kwal within the country.
The two firms have in the last two months been fighting after Distell, the local subsidiary of South Africa’s leading wine producer and distributor Distell, issued Kwal with a one-month notice of plans to terminate an exclusive distribution and bottling agreement.
Distell instead said it planned to directly manage its products in the region, with a manufacturing plant and local distributions on its main agenda. Kwal, however, rejected the notice and went to court to protect its contractual rights arguing it stood to make huge with the irreparable losses due to the illegal notice.
Kwal argued that the agreement between the two firms required Distell to issue it with a three-month notice. The court granted temporary injunction and ordered status quo to remain until the matter was heard and determined in court.
Under the partnership, Kwal bottles and distributes some of the brands owned by Distell.
It has been distributing popular brands including Viceroy, Amarula and Cellar casks. It also bottles Viceroy and Count Pushkin Vodka at its Industrial Area plant in Nairobi under license from Distell.
Distell in June said it is investing in a new production plant in Kenya and will pave the way for further expansion in the region.