Tata Chemicals barred from ending logistics firm Manpower’s contract

Tata Chemicals Magadi in Kajiado.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The High Court has temporarily restrained Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd from terminating a contract for fuel wagon handling services being undertaken by Manpower Networks Ltd.

It also restrained Tata Chemicals from assigning the services to any person, advertising fresh tenders for loading, handling and shipping of petroleum products at Mombasa whether internally or on local newspapers, websites and other forms of media or interfering with the existing contract.

Justice Florence Macharia issued the orders pending the hearing and determination of an application by Manpower and further directions from the court.

The case will be mentioned on May 16 for further directions.

Through lawyer Titus Kirui, Manpower says it has been in a contractual relationship with Tata Chemical since April 1, 2021, which was formalised on September 1, the same year and runs to date.

It says that though the initial contract lapsed on August 31, 2023, it has been extended from time to time and all has been well between the parties.

Manpower argues that despite the contract having lapsed, it continued rendering services to Tata Chemicals Magadi Ltd way beyond the expiry date without any interruption thereby creating a legitimate expectation on its part that its contract had been extended as before.

The company wants an order of permanent injunction issued restraining Tata Chemicals or anyone else interfering with the running, operation and continued performance of the contract.

It claims that in a sudden and unprecedented turn of events, Tata Chemicals issued a four-day termination notice vide a letter dated April 8 which meant that the contract stood terminated as of April 12.

“The intended termination is not only unreasonable but also capricious, high handed and unfair as it fails to take into account that the plaintiff has engaged employees whose term of employment cannot be terminated suddenly without adhering to the existing labour laws,” part of the suit documents by Manpower states.

According to the plaintiff, even if the defendant were to terminate the contract, it ought to give sufficient notice to enable it to equally notify its employees accordingly.

The plaintiff further claims that the defendant has developed a habit whereby when it intends to kick out a contractor, it picks out flimsy grounds to justify the termination of a contract without any consequences of breach of contract.

“In the present case, its reasons for termination are among others failure to comply with tax regime, remittances of NHIF and NSSF all of which are not within their scope since the specific organs tasked with them have not raised any complaint or concern as against the plaintiff,” argues Manpower.

The company says it has made attempts to settle the matter amicably but the defendant is keen on terminating the contract.

Manpower argues that it reasonably apprehends that the defendant, its officials or people claiming through it are likely to terminate the contract unless restraining orders are issued by the court directed at the defendant stopping it from terminating the contract.

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