It Takes Two To Do a Legal Tango
It takes two to fight. WWF bouts add a few more, going by the saying, ‘the more, the merrier’. Besides, it is obvious that no one will come to see a match where only one guy shows up. Walkovers are a damp squib. If, now, we were to extend that scenario to a court of law, what would be the outcome? Many possibilities, as various permutations and combinations are possible. We list two here.
 
Imagine a firm, Bapoo Malcolm & Associates; or a company, Bapoo Malcolm Ltd. One Mr X finds fault with the Malcolm entity. He files a suit, Mr X vs Bapoo Malcolm & Associates (or Ltd). He has a legitimate grievance, one that the court could uphold. Yet, he gets nothing. What happened?
 
In another case, three pension funds sued a company for certain amounts. The defendants were named ‘L & R Group of Companies’. However, no such company existed. It had so happened that a firm, System Parking, Inc, had changed its name to LR Sys Inc. The next month all its assets and liabilities were acquired by LR System Parking. On whom does one serve the papers? On ‘Group of Companies’?
 
One of the abiding virtues of our legal system, without which we could never be called civilised, is ‘audi alteram partem’. It means ‘Hear the other side’. No decision can be given against someone without hearing him. This is a commandment that is more important than all the other 10 put together. Surprisingly, Moses missed out on it!
 
The process for determining legal matters is fairly straightforward, legal jargon notwithstanding. Mr X files a case. He is the plaintiff, the one who is plaintively complaining. He is asking the court for some relief. He feels he has got the short end of the stick; and someone else is to blame for that. That someone else must be made to pay.
 
If the other party is an individual, or individuals, they can be named. If found to be at fault, they would have to pay, make good. An individual can be identified, nabbed, put away. If, however, the other side is a company, can it be nabbed, made to pay, put away? It is a legal entity but without a soul of its own. It is a puppet; the strings are in the hands of the managers. It is, then, the puppeteers who must be brought to book. Herein lies the rub. Along with the company named, one must list, as the defendants, the men behind it; those who run it. It is they who will pay, even as they sign the company’s cheques; the ones in the other corner.
 
This lacuna often occurs when people conduct their own cases. They forget to name the office-bearers. Revision is a waste of time and energy, litigants must remember. Having said that, we need to go back to the cases mentioned above.
 
You be the judge. How would you decide the L& R Group of Companies case? 
 
The matter went to the appellate court which said: “The odd name ‘L&R Group of Companies’,  which the opening brief on appeal described as ‘not a corporation’ with no further detail, led us to wonder whether it might  be a partnership, a holding company organised as a trust, or perhaps a membership  organisation…”
 
Quoting a case where Fortune magazine was made the defendant, the court declared that there must be ‘a party in interest’. In short, a person whom one can collar. It went on: “You can’t sue a ‘rubric’ any more than you could sue the Chicago River or the Magnificent Mile as a proxy for the City of Chicago… a rubric does not have a bank account.”  
 
It then directed that the proper parties be named and the case retried. One must have an identifiable opponent who can be brought to court and stand trial. 
 
So, if you want to sue Bapoo Malcolm Ltd, make sure that all the directors are properly named. Even if Bapoo is no longer one of them. 
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    COMMENTS

    Bapoo Malcolm

    3 years ago

    Thanks, Mr. Shenoy. Space constraints do not allow me to elaborate on such cases, especially in Consumer Fora. It is believed that one can save costs by not appointing lawyers. Maybe; but at what cost? Losing a case is definitely not an option. At least, seek advice. Courts, even for consumer matters, have to follow rules. Let us have cases where people have lost; so that we can find the REAL reasons. It could be an interesting exercise.

    REPLY

    Arunkumar A Vijayan

    In Reply to Bapoo Malcolm 3 years ago

    yes sir, would like to hear more of such situations. Nice article. Thanks

    SRINIVAS SHENOY

    3 years ago

    Excellent write up, indicating clearly the importance, that the proper parties should be named in a litigation.

    Justice Gone Awry, Judgement Not Recorded
    Undeniably, justice delayed is justice denied; but what would one say if justice is not only delayed but also derailed, that, too, by a person none other than a judge? 
     
    A recent judgement of the Supreme Court, delivered in the first week of 2017, threw light on this (Ajay Singh and Anr vs state of Chhattisgarh and 
    Anr Criminal Appeal Nos. 32-33 of 2017 (@ SLP (Crl.) Nos....
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  • Auditors, valuers to be fined Rs 10,000 for incorrect certificate
    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday proposed to penalise accountants, merchant bankers or registered valuers if they provide incorrect information or certificate.
     
    Jaitley also proposed to levy late fee in order to ensure timely filing of income tax returns.
     
    Jaitley presented the Budget 2017-18 in the Lok Sabha.
     
    According to the annexure to the budget speech, the government proposes to provide that if an accountant or a merchant banker or a registered valuer furnishes incorrect information in a report or certificate, he shall be liable to a penalty of Rs 10,000 for each such default.
     
    In order to ensure timely filing of returns of income, it is proposed to levy a fee in case of delay in filing the return, according to the annexure to the budget speech.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  • User

    COMMENTS

    David Rasquinha

    3 years ago

    Ridiculous amount considering the impact of a false certification.

    SRINIVAS SHENOY

    3 years ago

    I feel the penalty amount is nominal, considering the loss an innocent purchaser may suffer, due to the incorrect information in a report or certificate.

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