Socialite Don Zella ordered to pay Shs20m after suing Speke Apartments

The High Court in Kampala has ordered city socialite Sheila Nadege popularly known as Don Zella to pay Shs20 million as security for costs in a case in which she sued Speke Hotel 1996 Limited trading as Speke Apartments seeking damages worth Shs456,250,000 ($125,000).

High Court judge Musa Ssekaana’s decision was prompted by an application by Speke Apartments’ lawyers seeking for orders that the socialites furnish security for costs in her main case as well as costs of their application.

Justice Ssekaana ruled that although it is a fundamental principle that a person who asserts a claim should have access to justice, there are particular circumstances in which the plaintiff should be required to provide security because of the risk that the defendant may not otherwise recover his or her costs.

“I have carefully considered the applicant’s (Speke Apartments) application, the affidavit evidence, the laws cited as well as the authorities which have been cited by counsel. This application was not opposed by the respondent (Nadege); it would therefore, mean that the evidence of the applicant is unassailed and the same is admitted as presented to this court,” the judge held.

The judge said that a plaintiff should never be permitted to litigate on an unlikely claim and leave the defendant with a paper judgment for costs.
“The respondent filed the suit claiming negligence on the part of the applicant but it is clear the respondent never had any contract between herself and the applicant. The said room was booked by a different person-Shanita Male, this therefore, means the respondent (Nadege) has no cause of action against the applicant (Speke Apartments) contractually or otherwise,” Justice Ssekaana ruled.

According to the judge, nature of the case before court shows that the respondent’s (Nadege’s) claims are frivolous and vexatious since the respondent does not have a contract with the applicant. The respondent seems to be in collusion with the suspected burglar and the whole robbery or burglary was stage-managed to seek compensation wrongly from the applicant and also to tarnish the applicant’s business image.”

The judge concurred with the submission of lawyers of Speke Apartments that Ms Nadege has no known property in Uganda or income or business which is also worsened by the fact that she is domiciled or resident in the United States of America thus will not be able to pay costs if she loses the main suit.

The lawyers also contended that Ms Nadege conspired with Ms Male and the alleged burglar Adome Jeremy to stage a purported burglary on apartment 107 on December 25, 2020 and that she was using counterfeit money in different currencies of United States Dollars and Euros in their staged burglary.

“In the case before this court, the Applicant claims that the respondent has no known source of income and that with the knowledge of her previous frivolous actions, it is only prudent that to have the latter pay security for costs for this matter which will ably be returned to the respondent in the unlikely event of success of the main suit. This claim has not been refuted by the respondent,” the judge held.

“After consideration of the circumstances of this case, I find it appropriate to order the Respondent to furnish security for costs of Shs20, 000,000 million being the costs incurred and likely to be incurred by the applicant. The respondent will deposit this money within a period of three months from the date of this order, alternatively, the respondent/plaintiff may provide a bank guarantee or a bond within one month,” the judged added.

In her lawsuit, Ms Nadege states that on December 6, 2020 she rented two apartments room number 107 and 512 operated by Speke Apartments and that on December 25, a burglar or burglars at around 4pm while she and her family were away broke into her apartment room 107 and stole her property worth Shs460 mmillion.

According to the court documents, the said property was left in the locked apartment and also in the safe that was in the apartment for valuables which the thief or thieves unscrewed and made way with.
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