The court has dismissed East African Breweries Limited (EABL) bid to access thousands of confidential business records the brewer left under the care of security firm G4S in the wake of a contract row.
EABL wanted the court to issue an order compelling G4S to release the stored materials, which EABL says includes highly sensitive and confidential information like financial, bank and employment records it requires for its operations.
But Justice David Majanja dismissed the brewer’s petition, arguing that granting an order in favour of EABL would amount to resolving the dispute in support of the beer-maker.
The legal battle started in July last year after EABL asked the security to return 8,106 boxes following the end of three-year storage deal, but G4S said it needed eight months to release the documents and additional warehouse fees.
EABL sought the order as an interim measure, pending the outcome of arbitration proceedings.
It also wanted G4S to release the stored materials within 14 days of the order being made.
“Since the order would be final in nature, the court would have to make findings of fact necessary to support the order thus usurping the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal,” said justice Majanja.
He added that the difficulties in implementing the order cannot be overlooked given G4S had indicated challenges of retrieving, verifying and repackaging the documents within 14 days.
The documents linked to the court battle include EABL’s financial information and records, employment contracts and records, banking information and records as well as contracts.
Others are production and distribution data, procurement records as well as AGM, board and shareholding information.
G4S demanded Sh4 million for box withdrawal costs calculated at Sh500 per carton. Another Sh10.9 million for retrieval costs of 145,775 files at Sh75 each and Sh1.2 million every month for storage after the expiry of the contract.
The storage fee has hit Sh21.9 million, pushing the G4S demand to Sh36.8 million.
EABL reckons that G4S refusal to release the records is malicious and willfully calculated to enable it earn and claim accrued monthly charges.
At the centre of the dispute is the agreement of July 6 for the storage of records.
On the strong and retrieval, Under the contract, G4S agreed to provide EABL services, including storing material, retrieval, delivery and collection, archiving, indexing and racking stored material, destruction and disposal and digitising the stored material.
The three-year agreement started on July 6, 2016 and expired on July 6, 2019.
On June 10, 2019, EABL informed G4S that it would not be renewing the agreement and asked the security firm to provide the stored material for collection on the expiry date.
The security firm reckoned that it required at least eight months to return the stored material.
EABL rejected the eight-month plan, arguing it would amount to renewal of the terminated agreement.
The brewer said the expiry date of the pact was known and that it received regular inventory statements from G4S of the stored materials, indicating the security firm was ready to release documents at short notice.