LOCAL legal firm, Messrs Chinyama and Partners, has taken Harare businessman and musician, Energy Mutodi and his housing firm National Housing Development Trust (NHDT), to court over unpaid legal fees amounting to $30 000.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The law firm issued the summons against Mutodi sometime last year after the latter allegedly failed to pay for legal services rendered to him between January 2014 and January 2015.
Mutodi and the legal firm are now appearing before High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, who is deliberating on the parties’ pre-trial conference before the matter is set down for a full trial.
In its litigation, the law firm said it provided Mutodi with professional services at his request when he was facing several allegations of theft of trust property.
“The plaintiff (Messrs Chinyama and Partners) went to provide professional services to the first defendant (Mutodi) in several civil matters and in a matter where first defendant was arrested by police for failure to secure a firearm. The first and second defendants (NHDT) paid a portion of the agreed fees, leaving a balance of $30 000, which they acknowledged to be owing in writing,” the law firm said.
“… despite demand, first and second defendants have refused or neglected to pay the outstanding balance.”
However, in his response, Mutodi said there was no legal basis for the law firm to sue him in his “personal capacity for transactions that were made on behalf of the company with a separate legal personality”.
“Defendant specifically denies owing the plaintiff the amount claimed and any amount at all and puts the plaintiff to the strictest proof thereof. The purported acknowledgement of debt relied upon by the plaintiff was signed under threat of withdrawal of legal services if the acknowledgement was not signed,” he said.
“The plaintiff is challenged to provide its detailed legal bill and highlight what was paid by the defendant. The defendant paid the plaintiff $75 000 towards the legal bill, which is way much more than the legal fees payable to the plaintiff.”