An official decision awarding two farms to a business venture that had not even applied to be allotted them, has been set aside by Namibia’s high court. Judge Harold Geier said that the original decision had to be scrapped because one of the decision-makers had not recused himself even though he had an interest in the matter, being a manager of one of the business entities under consideration. It was an offence not to declare one’s interest in such a case, and recuse oneself, and could result in a fine and prison sentence.
As local and international concern grows over the Tanzanian government’s handling of Covid-19, a major international law firm has written to the Commonwealth Secretariat, suggesting that the time had come to consider expelling Tanzania from the Commonwealth. International human rights specialist firm, Amsterdam & Partners, said this was because, due to the policies of its president, John Magufuli, Tanzania was not living up to its undertakings as a member of the Commonwealth. It had committed to fight against communicable disease but was instead endangering the lives of people in Tanzania and other Commonwealth countries. These concerns are shared by others as well and last weekend alone, both Human Rights Watch and the World Health Organisation also raised alarm about the effect of government policies on the health of Tanzanians.
It has been a very busy few weeks in Lesotho. Included in these developments was a major cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, as well as the launch of new politically-charged court cases. Among the most interesting of these cases is a defamation action brought by the minister of law and justice, Nqosa Mahao. In a newly-filed case he seeks to challenge a newspaper story that carried allegations against him made by a senior police officer. The allegations were that he, Mahoa, was involved in deliberately trying to ensure that Lesotho’s former Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, was wrongfully accused of murder.
Two Nigerian communities, hard hit through the devastation of their environment by oil spills, have won a legal victory in the UK supreme court that could have wide-reaching effects not only on their own situation, but in similar cases in future. The communities have been trying to sue Royal Dutch Shell for alleged negligence in Nigeria that has led to the severe pollution of their traditional lands. Overturning a court of appeal decision, the supreme court judges held that the appeal court was mistaken in finding that a parent company could never incur a duty of care in respect of the activities of a subsidiary, merely because the parent company maintained ‘group-wide policies and guidelines’. Rather, the issue was how far the parent took over or shared management of the dispute activity, with the subsidiary. The most immediate consequence of the judgment is that it will allow the Nigerian claimants to litigate their negligence case in the UK courts.
Suppose a law firm draws up a land sale agreement between a client ‘well known to them’ and an outside party, and one of its lawyers witnesses the agreement, accompanies the parties to the bank and witnesses the payment of the funds to that same client. If that sale goes bad because the ‘seller’ (the client well known to the firm) was actually only impersonating the seller and previous owner of that land, and has since disappeared with the funds without giving over the land, where does that leave the firm in a negligence claim by the disappointed, not to mention aggrieved, would-be buyer? If the legal firm argued it had ‘no duty of care’ to the would-be buyer, would the court agree?