By Yankuba Jallow
Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court has ordered Gambia China Holding Company (GACH) to pay one Samba Mara D692,000 plus interest.
The Judge said GACH which is a limited liability company has no defence to the case and thus, held that Mr Mara has successfully proven his case on the balance of probability required in civil cases.
On 18th November 2019, Mr Mara sued GACH claiming for D491,000 being outstanding fee the defendant (GACH) owed him for the rental of his two trucks. He also claimed D142,500 for cost of repair of his two trucks which were damaged by GACH during the course of rental. The plaintiff also wanted the court to award him D820,000 for loss of earnings. He further asked for D155,000 for legal and administrative cost. Finally, he asked the court to award him 30% interest from 9th July 2019 to date of judgment.
Mr Mara submitted the signed contractual agreement between him and GACH prepared by the defendant (GACH).
The resident of Sinchu Alagie said GACH were also using his trucks for commercial purposes therefore, he said he is entitled to interest.
Lawyer A Mendy for GACh argued that the agreement was that GACH will pay for the days “used” as he disagreed with Lawyer for Mr Mara, who said the agreement was for rental. GACH’s lawyer said the damages on the truck cannot be imputed on the defendants.
“The damages are too remote to be granted,” GACH’s Lawyer said.
Lawyer A. Mendy submitted that the trucks are always in control and possession of Mr Mara’s employees.
GACH only admitted liability of D130,500, but denied all other claims by Mr Mara.
Justice Jaiteh siad the Defendant (GACH) were served with all documents on the 9th January 2019, but failed to file their statement of defence within 30 days as required by law.
“It shows that the Defendant has no defence,” Justice Jaiteh said.
The Judge held that the only evidence before the court in the case was that of the Plaintiff.
The court found and holds as fact that there was a valid contract between GACH and Mr Mara, and GACH agreed to pay Mr Mara D9500 for each of the trucks daily.
“There was a valid contract. There was meeting of the mind,” the Judge held.
The contract was signed by one Abubacar Jawara for GACH and Mr Samba Mara for himself.
The Judge said GACH should pay Mr Mara D285,000 for truck with the registration number BJL 4606 K (30 days used) and D266,000 for truck with registration number BJL 3536 J (28 days used) totalling to D551,000.
However, the court took into consideration the fact that GACH has already made an advanced payment of D60,000 bringing down the total outstanding fee to D491,000 owed to Mr Mara by GACH.
“The Plaintiff has provided credible evidence to the court showing that he has an outstanding fee of D491,000 owed to him by the Defendant (GACH),” he said.
The court refused to award the sum sought for the damages on the vehicles. Mara said for 82 days, his two vehicles were at the garage because he could not have money for their repair.
“The Plaintiff (Mr Mara) is responsible for servicing the truck as per the contract signed,” Justice Jaiteh said.
On the 30% request by Mr Mara, Justice Jaiteh said interest is at the discretion of the court, but has to be based on what the laws provide for.
The Judge said GACH should pay D491,000 as the outstanding fee for the rental of the truck, D100,000 as general damages, D51,000 legal and administrative cost and D50,000 as cost. Also, he awarded 10% interest from 9th January 2019 to date of judgment and 4% from the date of judgment to the date of payment all in favour of Mr Mara.