JOHANNESBURG – Cricket South Africa (CSA) are facing a broad front of legal claims running into tens of millions of Rands as the true cost of the chaos surrounding last year’s postponed T20Global becomes clearer.
In recognition of the seriousness of their legal predicament, CSA have just changed attorneys, moving from Mota Attorneys, a firm based in Waterkloof, to heavy hitters, Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS), one of the most powerful legal practices in the country.
Understandably CSA do not publicise the list of those who are either in legal dispute with them or threatening to become involved in legal action.
At last count, however, the list was five or six strong, and might, in fact, be as high as ten. This list includes former franchise owners (of which at least two are involved in a legal dispute with CSA), individuals who were part of consortiums of owners, and former employees.
As far as former owners are concerned, both Sameen Rana (of the Durban-based Qalandars) and Hiren Bhanu (of the Centurion-based Mavericks) are pursuing legal action.
Rana’s case is complicated in that he is waiting upon CSA to either announce the venues for this year’s T20 tournament or for ENS (and CSA) to deal with his claim that he still has a legal right to a Durban-based team – whichever comes first.
“We first need to establish what CSA think of my legal claim,” said Rana. “Do they see me as a valuable partner? After that, we can say that they have cost me losses, wasted my time and damaged my reputation. Then we’ll know the best way forward.”
“I don’t care if they bring the best of the lawyers or the worst of the lawyers,” he said in reference to CSA moving to ENS. “I just want to know what they think is my legal right.”
“This is not about revenge. It is not my intention to embarrass them. They took my money.”
For his part, Bhanu is suing CSA, his legal advice being that he has a greater chance of success here than he has with pursuing an interdict – his initial idea. An interdict is tricky in the sense that what would he interdict, given that CSA have not announced dates of venues for this year’s proposed T20 tournament.
Bhanu believes CSA owe him “over a million US dollars.”
When it was put to CSA that they are in an unusually litigious period, they didn’t deny the claim. Instead, they argued: “It’s a passing phase that will be taken care of.”
When asked what they would spend in legal costs this year, they responded that the costs are unknown. “The nature of legal costs are ad hoc and we do not budget for litigious events,” they said through their press officer, Koketso Gaofetoge.
Osman Osman, a minority shareholder in the Mavericks franchise, is pursuing a legal claim independently of Bhanu’s. Essentially his lawyers are asking if CSA’s goodwill offer to franchisees after the tournament’s postponement constitutes a bribe.
At root, however, is Osman’s feeling that he has been treated with contempt. “Thabang [Moroe, the CSA chief executive] is picking these fights,” he said, “and then the lawyers need to come along and clean up. Why not just make the lawyers the chief executive?”
African News Agency (ANA)