Conflict of interest sees case deferred

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday October 9th, 2013


A JUDGE has ruled a mistrial in a case involving a National Broadcasting Corporation employee who claims he was unlawfully sacked.

Proceedings have been vacated to Thursday week after Justice Ere Kariko discovered that the defence lawyer was a relevant witness and could not represent a party in the proceedings.

Chris Rai, employed as an executive officer by NBC in 2010, is claiming he was wrongfully sacked because he was a whistle-blower. He took managing director Memafu Kapera and NBC to court.

As Rai was cross-examined by a lawyer representing the NBC, the witness’s inclusive answers (saying you) referring to the defence lawyer (an in-house lawyer for NBC) alerted the judge who ordered the trial to be stopped.

“You are a potential witness to the critical issues in this case and cannot represent the defendant, the NBC,” Kariko told the lawyer.

Kariko said the trial previously came before him on May 21. It did not proceed because of a similar situation. A lawyer representing Kapera and NBC was a potential witness to relevant issues on trial.

“I fixed the trial to this morning but again the defence lawyer is also a potential witness to this trial,” he said.

Kariko said because the lawyer was a potential witness in the case, there was a conflict of interest and he could not represent NBC.

He said the defendant had to seek new legal representation from a new lawyer.

He then adjourned the case to Thursday week where he would allocate a new trial date subject to Kapera and NBC securing new legal representation.

Kariko ordered defendants to pay plaintiffs cost of yesterday’s proceedings before the trial date is set during next Thursday’s sitting.