High Court declines to join Vedanta to winding up proceedings

By Staff Reporter

LUSAKA High Court judge Anessie Banda-Bobo has dismissed an application by Konkola Copper Mines’s majority shareholders, Vedanta Resources Holding Limited, to join the winding up proceedings of the mining giant.

In this petition, ZCCM Investment Holdings PLC has commenced winding up proceedings, on allegations among others that KCM had become insolvent.

ZCCM-IH appointed lawyer Milingo Lungu as provisional liquidator through an exp parte order which judge Bobo granted.

However, Vedanta Resources Holdings Limited through its lead lawyer Mulenga Mundashi, State Counsel applied to be joined to the proceedings because they had an interest as majority shareholders but the lawyers for the petitioner; ZCCM-IH, and KCM opposed the application.

And Hermien Uys, a South African of Stellenbosch who is an authorised representative of Vedanta filed an affidavit in which he submitted that Vedanta invested millions of United States dollars in KCM  with a view to realize  a return on the investment over a period of time and thus,  it is within
its interest  that KCM  should continue  as a  going concern.

Uys had also stated that Vedanta had the requisite locus standi to be added as a party because it possesses sufficient interest in the matter and that the majority shareholder stands to suffer great prejudice  if the court
orders KCM  be wound up without hearing it.

But in her ruling this afternoon, judge Bobo said there was no provision in the winding up rules for Vedanta to be joined in the manner it wanted.

She explained that in winding up petitions, there was no such procedure for applying for joinder but that a non party, who has interest, was required to file a notice of intention to be heard on the winding up petition.

She said only then can someone be heard on any application before and during the hearing of the actual petition.

“In the premise, this court cannot order joinder of the intended 2nd respondent (Vedanta) to the proceedings before me as there is no such process under the winding up rules,” judge Bobo said.

The judge added that winding up proceedings are governed by the Companies Winding-Up Rules of 2004  which do not provide for a joinder of a non-party.

Judge Bobo however, explained that this does not mean that a non-party who has interest in winding up proceedings was not entitled to be heard.

She said due to the nature of the case, she would not make orders as to costs but granted leave to appeal.