- Judge invokes Turquand Rule in P110 million Debswana lawsuit
An otherwise little known business rule will loom large in a P110 million legal suit between Infotrac (Pty) Ltd and Diamond mining giant, Debswana.
This was at least the suggestion of Justice Abednigo Tafa when he winded arguments on the staggering demand on Friday. The Turquand Rule will thus take center stage in the case and possibly form part of the heads of arguments to be filed between now and June when Justice Tafa hands down his ruling.
The crux of the case hinges on an oral consultancy agreement between former Debswana departmental heads, Mpho Kewakae and Messers Keitumetse and Mazwigwila. It is Infotrac’s case that the trio,acting on behalf of Debswana contracted the company to lobby powerful people in the land in favour of the late Albert Milton. At the time, Milton was General Manager for Jwaneng mine and was looking to ascend to the position of Debswana Managing Director (MD).
The case between the spy agency and the miner has consistently spewed jarring details into the broader public domain. Chief amongst them is testimony detailing allegations of an extramarital affair between the late Milton and the wife of his then boss, Debswana MD Balisi Bonyongo. It was this particular claim that whipped up fears among the triad of Debswana managers that Bonyongo would sabotage Milton’s ascendance to the top post.
Bonyongo was the outgoing MD while Milton’s prospects to succeed him, according to the suit were judged imprecise even as he was the sole runner.
According to Infotrac proprietor, Mompoloki Motshidi, this then resulted in a verbal brief to lobby Botswana’s most connected power wielders to counterbalance the supposed threat posed by Bonyongo. This included the then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, former Spy Chief Isaac Kgosi and the late former central bank governor, Linah Mohohlo among others.
Other mind-blowing details revealed in court include the monitoring of Mine Workers Union members using sophisticated spyware, including one placed in a toilet in Orapa mine.
Now, the Turquand Rule which is otherwise known as internal management rule will form a crucial part of the case.
According to BLC attorneys website, this rule serves to protect genuine companies or entrepreneurs who may not be aware of any internal wrongdoings in a company they are doing business with, which may eventually affect their contract.
The rule, also known as internal management rule basically holds that it’s incumbent upon any company wishing to transact with another to ensure its internal regulations and processes have been followed to the hilt in relation to the envisaged engagement of services of another company.
This is so that the other transacting party can rest easy assured of protection. Furthermore, the rule also smoothens doing business. “The Turquand rule relieves third parties from enquiring whether the company it intends on contracting with has complied with all its internal rules. It serves to shield bona fide third parties from being prejudiced by the company’s failure to comply with its own internal requirements,” states the statement by BLC attorneys.
The Turquand rule can only be invoked to protect businesses or third parties acting in good faith. “This means that a third party who knew or even suspects that internal formalities have not been complied with but deliberately turns a blind eye will not be protected.”