Dar es Salaam. Pre-inspection firm Serengeti Global Services Limited (SGSL) has lost a legal bid to challenge a court order requiring them to pay the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) $141,747 (about Sh326 million).
This is intheform of unpaid inspection fees for used motor vehicles imported from the United Kingdom (UK).
The company was seeking to file an application to set aside the order outside the 21 days allowed by law. The order was issued in March last year.
“The applicant (SGSL) has utterly failed to advance reasons to warrant this court grant extension of time and subsequently set aside the order,” said Justice Stephen Magoiga in his recent decision.
The two institution have been locked in the legal tussle since 2019 over breach of 36-month contract for inspection of used motor vehicles destined to Tanzania from UK.
TBS resorted to court action in July 2019 after accusing the firm of breaching a 36-months contract for inspecting all used motor vehicles that were being imported to Tanzania form UK.
Under the contract, all vehicles destined to Tanzania had to pass a road worthiness inspection standards to see if they are applicable to Tanzanian standards set by TBS.
The contract that was signed in February 2014 was to start on April 1, 2015 and was to end on March, 2018.
It was the term and condition of the contract that Serengeti would be remitting administration fee of 30 percent of the $200 charge on each motor vehicle inspected in UK.
TBS claimed in the original case that Serengeti failed to remit the fee and submit annual report as per the contract.
After hearing the case Justice Magoiga issued a default judgment in March last year, ordering the inspection firm to pay TBS the claimed amount for breach of contract.
The default judgment was issued after the inspection firm had failed to defend themselves in court. This was even after being notified of the case - and summoned to appear in court.
Rule 22 (1) of Commercial Court’s rules allows the court to conclude the case in favour of the complainant if the defendant fails to file written defence within 21 days after being ordered to do so.
We ask for more time
After weeks of delay, Serengeti rushed to the same court to seek extension of time to file an application to challenge the default judgment out of time.
The company claimed that the failed to enter defence because the person who received the summons to appear in court was neither their officer nor authorized to do so.
They also argued that the delay was not intentional but because none of its directors could travel to Tanzania following the coronavirus crisis.