Kenya: Reprieve for German Investor in Sh1 Billion Malindi Hotel Row

A German investor has breathed a sigh of relief after it emerged that a court decision that dislodged him from the proprietorship of a Sh1 billion luxurious hotel in Malindi was not conclusively determined.

The new development has come as a relief for Mr Hans Jurgen Langer, who has maintained that a ruling delivered in 2015, regarding the control and management of Salama Beach Hotel, did not conclusively address the ownership question.

Malindi High Court Judge Reuben Nyakundi ruled that the civil dispute that was filed in 2009, and a ruling delivered on April 30, 2015, did not determine the ownership dispute decisively.

He supported this position noting that the dispute, is a matter that is still being actively prosecuted in his court, therefore, it is unlikely that it was conclusively resolved.

"I am inclined to the position that the ruling of April 30, 2015, by Justice Said Chitembwe, did not conclusively determine that matter. I say so because my understanding of that ruling related to an interlocutory application seeking the withdrawal of a consent order," he said

"Had the case -Malindi HCCC No. 118 of 2009- been conclusively determined, would the matter still be within the corridors of justice? I think not," the judge added.

Consolidation

Justice Nyakundi has ordered for the consolidation of this case, with another filed in 2019, and directed that the same be scheduled for hearing and disposal within 30 days.

The judge merged the two cases after finding that the issues in dispute are similar.

The issues in the 2009 and 2019 files revolves around who ought to manage and control the property and affairs of Salama Beach Hotel Limited between Mr Langer and his wife Zahra Langer on one side, and Isaac Rodrot (Kenyan) and Steffano Uccelli(Italian) on the other side.

"In my view, it behooves this court that the matters be heard together with a view of fulfilling the overriding objectives of facilitating just, expeditious, proportionate, and affordable resolution of civil disputes," said the judge.

This ruling has paved the way for yet another court battle between the parties, who are each claiming ownership of the facility.

Mr Langer has maintained that final judgment has not been rendered regarding proprietorship of the hotel.

"Justice Chitembwe's ruling, and the Court of Appeal judgment did not determine the issue of shareholding and directorship of Salama Beach Hotel ltd, but only returned the status of the company to December 14, 2009," said Mr Langer.

The status of the firm as of December 14, 2009, gives Mr Langer the control and management of the Salama Beach Hotel ltd.

The two rulings favoured Mr Rodrot and Mr Ucceli.

The two have, however, maintained that the two rulings settled the dispute, and there is nothing left for litigation.

"We would be blocked from taking possession and the management of the facility and dealing with its shares and directorship if Mr Langer's prayers are granted. This would be akin to overturning the judgments of the Court of Appeal," they said through their lawyer Joseph Munyithya

Mr Langer had filed a derivative case seeking to recover damages and to restrain Mr Ucceli and Mr Rodrot from interfering with the business of the hotel.

But the court noted that a reading of the court documents confirms that the case boils down to the ownership, management, and control of Salama Beach Hotel Limited.

The court also noted that a notice to withdraw the suit filed by the two was not properly filed and declared the same null and void.

Justice Nyakundi's ruling comes barely a year after Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji pressed criminal charges against Rodrot and Uccelli for allegedly taking from Mr Langer the ownership of the hotel.

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