CFI 009/2017 Salam Advocates and Legal Consultants v Kele Contracting LLC
Claim No. CFI 009/2017
THE DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CENTRE COURTS
IN THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
SALAM ADVOCATES AND LEGAL CONSULTANTS
KELE CONTRACTING LLC
IMMEDIATE JUDGMENT OF THE DEPUTY CHIEF JUSTICE SIR DAVID STEEL
UPON reading the Claimant’s Application for Immediate Judgment dated 9 October 2017
UPON reading the Statements of Case and Witness Statements in these proceedings
AND UPON considering the submissions of counsel for the Claimant in the Application hearing dated 16 January 2018
IT IS ORDERED that:
1.Pursuant to Article 24.11 of the Rules of the DIFC Courts, the Claimant’s Application for Immediate Judgment is granted.
2. The Defendant shall pay to the Claimant the amount of AED 1,172,484.71 in satisfaction of the claim.
3. The Defendant shall pay to the Claimant the further amount of AED 168,259.59 representing pre-judgment interest on the claim at 9 per cent per annum, commencing 13 June 2016.
4. The Defendant shall pay the Claimant’s costs of and incidental to the claim, calculated at AED 467,629.71.
Date of Issue: 22 January 2018
SCHEDULE OF REASONS
DELIVERED ORALLY ON 16 JANUARY 2018
1.This is an Application by the Claimant, Salam Advocates and Legal Consultants, for immediate judgement in respect of outstanding fees said to be due from Kele Contracting LLC, the Defendant.
2. The background is fairly straightforward and is set out in a witness statement of Mr Mohammed Al Zari, being a Partner of the Claimant law firm. The monies are said to be due pursuant to legal services provided to the Defendant, under the terms of a professional fee agreement dated 22 November 2015. The basis upon which the fees were to be calculated is set out in that contract and varied according to the nature of the work being conducted and the category of case.
3. In broad terms, the fees were to be 7 per cent of the claim amount for civil cases with a minimum of AED 15,000 and a maximum of 45,000. AED 15,000 was agreed as payable where a settlement was concluded prior to judgement. A lump sum of AED 30,000 was payable in any criminal case. The terms added that 50 per cent of the professional fee was payable within 45 days of the Defendant providing the Claimant with instruction to represent it and the balance payable after the first judgement of the Court.
4. The sum claimed in these proceedings is AED 1,172,484.71. The Claimant also seeks interest and costs. The Defendant company did file a defence and counterclaim in April last year, but has in effect undertaken precious little participation in these proceedings since that time. Messrs KBH Kaanuun were engaged to represent the Defendant during the course of the summer of 2017 and filed a defence and counterclaim. That counterclaim foundered because the filing fee was never paid. There was then a somewhat unsatisfactory demand by the Defendant for further disclosure.
5. The Defendant has filed no evidence whatsoever, either in accordance with the Order made at the case management conference in this case, or otherwise. They are not represented here today, having received due notice of this hearing. There was an indication at one stage in October of last year that the Defendant wanted further time to file evidence, but they have never filed any Application in support of that and accordingly the Court intends to proceed on the material that is available here today.
6. The criteria for immediate judgement are spelt out in convenient form in GFH Capital v David Laurence Hague  DFIC CFI 020 in a judgement of Justice Roger Giles. I will not solemnly read through those principles which are well-known. As I say, the Defendant has not seen fit to file any evidence, have not seen fit to attend and have not furnished any support for the defence which they filed.
7. The defence relates to about 20 of the various matters on which the Claimant was engaged and raises three potential defences. First, that the relevant case did not exist at all or the Claimant was not ever instructed. Secondly, that in some respect the Claimant was negligent or did not provide an adequate service. Thirdly, that the judgement in the particular matter was handed down after the Claimant had suspended its legal services under the contract and therefore it was not entitled to claim 100 per cent for its professional fees.
8. Ms Lakhan, who appears for the Claimant, has most helpfully provided the Court with a table of these disputed matters, numbering 20 in total, in which she has set out the identity of the claim being made against the Defendant, what point was being taken by the Defendant with regard to the fees being charged by the Claimant, a cross-reference to the witness statements of Mr Al Zari dealing with the individual items and, equally helpfully, cross-references to our extensive bundles. She has taken me through three good examples of the disputed matters; (i) an example of the case where the Claimant is said to have invoiced a claim that did not exist; (ii) another example where the Claimant was said to have acted negligently; and (iii) a further one where it was said the Claimant was not entitled to claim 100 per cent because services continued after the contract was terminated.
9. I am quite satisfied, as indeed Ms Lakhan puts in her skeleton argument, that these defences are entirely devoid of merit. I do not hesitate in granting judgement in relation to the claims that are being advanced. There is no need for me to solemnly go through all 20 examples of the various issues, it is sufficient for me to say that the examples that have been tendered demonstrate the unreliability of the Defendant’s defence. Since that defence is wholly unsupported by any evidence and wholly unsupported by any submissions on their behalf before me it is safe for the Court to proceed on the basis that the claim is a valid one.
10. I give judgement to the Claimant in the sum of AED 1,172,484.71. There will be interest on that figure as from 13 June 2016 at the rate of 9 per cent.
11. In addition, the Claimant is entitled to its costs, which are contained within a schedule which is put before me. I do not detect any reason why those costs are not both legitimately calculated, and fair in terms of rate. There will be a judgement for costs in the sum of AED 467,629.71.
12. I so order.