The District Court of Colombo yesterday dismissed a case filed by Dr. Chris Nonis and Lalith Fonseka against Agalawatte Plantations and its subsidiary on a preliminary objection taken by the counsel of Agalawatte Plantations and its directors.
Case No. 19/2017DSP was filed by Dr. Chris Nonis, the former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and Lalith Fonseka to obtain inter alia enjoining orders and injunctions against Agalawatte Plantations PLC and its directors acting in respect of its subsidiary Mackply (Pvt.) Ltd.
Agalawatte Plantations PLC and its directors were represented in court by Counsel Nishan Premathiratne, who appeared with Nadun Wijayasiriwardene, Pravi Karunaratne and Yasith Hirimburegama, instructed by Sanath Wijewardane, attorney-at-law.
Nonis and Fonseka were represented by Counsel Chandaka Jayasundara, who appeared with Lakshmanan Jayakumar and Pulasthi Rupasinghe, attorneys-at-law, on the instructions of Sanjay Fonseka attorney-at-law.
The preliminary objection taken by Agalawatte Plantations PLC and its directors was on the basis that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the plaintiff’s case as the matters complained by the plaint filed before the District Court required the District Court to make adjudications on violations of Provisions of the Companies Act No.07 of 2007 and the articles of association of Mackply.
The complaint of Nonis and Fonseka was that Agalawatte Plantations PLC and its directors have been wrongfully appointed to the board of Mackply, which is a subsidiary of Agalawatte Plantations PLC.
The plaintiffs complained that the requisition calling for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in respect of Mackply, dated January 19, 2017 and the decisions taken at that meeting had violated the Provisions of the Companies Act No.07 of 2007 and the Articles of association of Mackply (Pvt.) Ltd.
The legal team for Agalawatte Plantations PLC and its directors through submissions made and filed to the court took up the position that these matters cannot be heard by the District Court as the matters are in respect of the purported violations of the Companies Act No. 07 of 2007 and the exclusive islandwide jurisdiction to hear and determine such matters is only vested in the Commercial High Court of the Western Province.
And on this basis, the counsel’s position was that Nonis’ and Fonseka’s action should be dismissed by the District Court.
Learned District Court Judge Sujeewa Nishshanka having considered the submissions of the parties was in favour of the position taken up by the counsel for Agalawatte Plantations PLC and its directors and dismissed the case of Nonis and Fonseka on the basis that the District Court is devoid of jurisdiction.
Owing to the dismissal, the entire proceedings of this case in the District Court was terminated.
This case of Nonis and Fonseka, which was filed on or around February 7, 2017 sought ex parté enjoining orders preventing the directors of Agalawatte Plantations PLC, who were appointed to Mackply, from discharging their duties as directors.
When the matter was sought to be supported, the legal team of Agalawatte Plantations PLC was also present in the court and sought to object to the ex parté enjoining orders.
The District Court, however, did not issue the ex parté enjoining orders on that day and only proceeded to issue notice and summons.
The series of legal battles commenced between Mackwoods Group of Companies in which the Chairman is Chris Nonis, and Agalawatte Plantations PLC was pursuant to a sale of majority stake of 60.8 percent of shares in Agalawatta Plantations PLC by Mackwoods to the Browns group for a sum of Rs.304 million
However, these shares were recently acquired by the Damro group.