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Britam opposes application to lift orders freezing Acorn accounts

By Kamau Muthoni | Nov 14th 2014 | 2 min read
By Kamau Muthoni | November 14th 2014

Kenya: Investment firm, Britam, has opposed an application filed at the High Court seeking to lift orders freezing accounts of Acorn Group.

In a heated argument before High Court Judge David Onyancha, Britam through its lawyer Fred Ngatia, told the court that the temporary orders freezing the accounts were a justified cause, adding that if the defendants were allowed to continue operating the accounts, then the company would suffer irreparable damage.

Britam is seeking to recover Sh3.94 billion from former executives who quit its asset management unit, BAAM, in August sparking a heated legal battle between the firm and Acorn.

Ngatia was responding to arguments earlier filed by Acorn that the court lift orders given last week (Thursday), which are binding on the four separate cases before the same judge. Acorn argued that the court had powers to preserve the status of the accounts before the case was settled.

Justice Onyancha had last week issued restraining orders barring Acorn, a real estate company, from transferring disputed funds and developing any of the planned real estate projects. “The denial of an injunction can cause such a damage that cannot be repaired. The purpose of the injunction is to preserve the suit property until the case is determined,” Ngatia argued.

Extension dispute

However, Acorn, 25 per cent owned by Britam, informed the court that it lacked authority to extend orders freezing its bank accounts.

In counter arguments lodged by lawyers representing Acorn, Edenvale Developments, Starling Park Properties, Crimson Court Development, Mikado Properties, Sinopia Properties, Crescent LLP, Cytonn, and Spring Green, they argued that the judge did not have the authority to extend the orders that he had granted after hearing one party (Britam). The court heard that the extension of the orders had no legal basis.

Justice Onyancha also heard that he should refer the matter to the commercial division where the same can be heard due to the nature of the dispute.

Lawyers Walter Amoko, Ochieng Oduol and John Ohaga who represented the respondents all argued all the five cases should be consolidated into one as they sought similar orders and remedies. This argument was, however, strongly opposed by Ngatia who told the court that the separate cases had different causes that did not warrant them being joined together as one case.

Ngatia said some of the respondents had not filed their responses to the suit. He sought for 10 days to respond to the affidavits which will be filed by next week Tuesday.

“A judge is mandated to carry out his duties without technical hitches. It will be the opposite of the plaintiff’s expectations to leave without any legal remedies,” he said.

The court will rule on the same on November 27.

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