VEDANTA Resources has appointed Nchito and Nchito a firm in which former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito is a partner to represent it in its legal battles with the Zambian government to take charge of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM – in liquidation).
In their first filing in court, Nchito and Nchito have questioned whether Messrs Ellis and Company, Messrs Makebi Zulu Advocates, Messrs Andrew Musukwa and Co. and Messrs DH Kemp and Co. who are appointed by the provisional liquidator, can appear on behalf of KCM to support or oppose the appointment of the provisional liquidator and the winding up petition generally.
Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, a London based director of Vedanta and a KCM director has asked the High Court to state whether liquidation of the mining company can be conducted without being heard through lawyers of its choice.
Vedanta owned majority shares in KCM before ZCCM-IH, a minority shareholder on behalf of the government, applied to the High Court to allow it to appoint a liquidator to wind up the partnership.
Messrs Nchito and Nchito Advocates has filed a notice saying when the matter comes up on June 11 this year, the court should determine whether the lawyers representing ZCCM-IH and KCM could represent the companies.
In this matter ZCCM-IH placed KCM under liquidation after which Milingo Lungu was appointed provisional liquidator.
Mr Lungu has retained Bonaventure Mutale to represent him while Makebi Zulu advocates to represent KCM.
But Mr Venkatakrishnan, who is also KCM board chairman and chief executive officer of Vedanta Resources Limited, the parent company of Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited which is the majority shareholder in KCM with 79.4 of the issued ordinary shares, raised preliminary issues arguing that lawyers appointed by the provisional liquidator cannot oppose his appointment.
According to a notice of motion to raise preliminary issues, Mr Venkatakrishnan said his argument was supported by the fact that the advocates appointed by the provisional liquidator had not filed an affidavit in support of or in opposition to the application to appoint a provisional liquidator.
He said at law, a provisional liquidator could not appoint a legal practitioner to support or oppose his own appointment or the making of a winding up order of the company.
Mr Venkatakrishnan contended that the power of the provisional liquidator was specific to things the liquidator was empowered to do but was unable to do personally.
“I am advised by counsel and verily believe the same to be true that at law, a provisional liquidator cannot appoint a legal practitioner to support or oppose his own appointment or the making of a winding-up order in respect of a company such as the respondent, notwithstanding that a provisional liquidator has been granted powers of the kind,” Mr he said.
The matter comes up again on June 11.