Judge Ken Manda of the High Court’s Commercial Division Lilongwe Registry ruled in favour of American Palace (Pvt) Limited which was involved in a land dispute with Celcom Limited after both were allocated the same piece of land in Lilongwe by the Ministry of Lands.
Celcom Limited, which was allocated the land in 2010 after American Palace was also offered the same plot, started developing the land and spent K131 million (about $327 500) as of February this year.
In his ruling, Manda said the Ministry of Lands should proceed to identify an equally suitable plot and allocate the same to Celcom without any extra charges being imposed.
He further ordered and directed that there should be a valuation of the developments Celcom made on the plot and once quantified; the Ministry of Lands should compensate Celcom the said amount.
During the hearing, the ministry admitted that the mistake was made after the land was resurveyed and given another plot number, different from the one given to American Palace.
Unsatisfied with the ruling, lawyer representing Celcom, Khumbo Soko, filed an application for a stay order of the judgement, but the judge refused to hear it.
Celcom took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal where Judge Andrew Nyirenda, in his ruling, ordered that the matter should be taken back to judge Manda to reconsider the application.
He said application for a stay of execution pending appeal is well spelt out that it must be made in the first instance to the court below. If refused, he said, the application can be made to the Court of Appeal.
American Palace, which is intending to use the land for the construction of a hotel and a casino, was allocated the piece of land in May 2006 as plot number 13/1 comprising of 4.18 hactares of land.
In October 2010, Ministry of Lands, under a different plot number, being 13/117, allocated the same piece of land to Celcom which plans to construct an office building.