By Andante Okanya
The Commercial Court battle pitting two rival agricultural input firms Balton Uganda Limited and Bolton International Limited, has been sent to a mediator as an alternative to resolve the dispute.
Appearing on Wednesday in court presided by Justice Billy Kainamura, the two firms agreed to use the alternative dispute resolution mechanism of mediation.
During mediation, a mediator, with impeccable legal knowledge, assists the parties to negotiate a settlement.
Court had scheduled to hear an application to temporarily stop Bolton from allegedly posturing as Balton, pending the hearing of the main suit.
The option of pursuing mediation was suggested by Balton lawyer, Peters Musoke, who stated that the case be halted pending the outcome of the mediation.
“I think we should put off the matter for a while and go for mediation. If mediation fails, then we fix a hearing date,” Musoke stated.
The judge noted, without prejudice, that the temporary application, would create a perception among the lawyers’ clients to be “expectant of a quick fix , yet some cases don’t have a quick fix”.
Bolton lawyer, Ebert Byenkya, stated that they intend to challenge the suit on grounds that it does not disclose the cause of action. He said Balton should have filed a suit, with ‘infringement’ as the bone of contention, and not ‘passing off’.
But the judge said Bolton’s query should be raised later, in the event that the mediation fails to resolve the dispute. The set mediation dates are for October 29 and 30.
The case arose on August 28, when Balton Uganda and its parent UK based company Balton CP Limited, jointly sued Bolton and its chairman Zeev Shiff.
Balton wants court to compel Bolton to deliver for destruction all the offending materials and documents in their possession.
Passing off in common law, refers to an impression created by a person that his goods or services are those of someone else in way likely to cause damage to the other party.
Balton claims Bolton is dealing in the same product as theirs, is running several adverts, media publications, and using a name and get up of similar symbols and colours.
Balton asserts that Bolton’s use of the phrase “it is Bolton” and “Same People-New Direction”, was intended to mislead and deceive the general public.
Bolton is accused of seeking business from Balton’s clientele, and that they have created an impression that the companies are associated.
Shiff served as Balton general manager from December 1998 to July 2013. Balton contends that was bound by a contractual and legal duty of confidentiality which he later purportedly breached.