NAME OF THE CASE
Conplant Technology [Pvt]Ltd V Wentspring Investments [Pvt] Ltd
HH 965 -15
NAME OF THE COURT
High Court of Zimbabwe
CITY AND COUNTRY
Arbitration clause, jurisdiction, contract
The plaintiff’s claim was for payment of a sum of money in respect of labour and materials supplied to, for and on behalf of the defendant. The cost of labour and material amounted to US$32 960. The plaintiff also said it was due a commission in the sum of US$3 296. It issued summons for payment of these two amounts. The defendant filed a special plea claiming that there was an arbitration clause in the agreement that obliged the parties to settle any dispute between them by arbitration. It was settled that a clause in a contract to refer a dispute to arbitration was binding on the parties. A party is not at liberty to resile from that clause any time he may wish to do so. In terms of Article 8 of the Arbitration Act, where a party makes a timeous request for referral to arbitration, the court has to stay the matter and refer the dispute to arbitration unless the agreement is null and void, or is inoperative or is incapable of being performed. The court was faced with the question as to whether or not the arbitration clause was meant to ouster the inherent jurisdiction of the court.
- Mafusire J held that the issue is not about the ousting of the inherent jurisdiction of the court, but rather about enforcing a contractual provision. By agreeing to arbitration, the parties select a dispute resolution mechanism alternative to litigation through the conventional courts and should thus abide by the provisions of their contract. The court dismissed the case and ordered the respondent to pay the arbitral award.