Law firm Gray Moodliar Inc has accused the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality of wilfully ignoring a court order, and has demanded that the 76 cases it had been working on be returned to the firm immediately.

But The Herald reports as the demands were made in a letter to acting city manager Noxolo Nqwazi, lawyers for the municipality filed a fresh bid for leave to appeal against the judgment of the Eastern Cape High Court (Makhanda) which had set aside Gray Moodliar’s dismissal.

Director Sureshni Moodliar wrote to Nqwazi last week, stating that since the judgment in June, the municipality had been silent on how the firm would be reinstated. She said redistributing the cases unnecessarily amounted to wasteful and fruitless expenditure, which was exactly what the judge had tried to avoid.

‘It has come to our attention, however, that the municipality is in wilful default of the court order in that after handing down of the judgment, it has instructed new attorneys,’ Moodliar wrote.

The very next day, lawyer Kuban Chetty filed the application for leave to appeal.

Chetty – instructed by the municipality and the Speaker of the council – said from the get-go the court had erred in finding that the application lodged by Gray Moodliar was urgent and deserved to be given preference on the court roll.

Acting Judge Margaux Beard had found that the council’s decision to terminate the law firm’s services had been completely irrational and based on unsubstantiated facts. Beard said it was clear from the transcription of a debate between some councillors that the reason for adopting the resolution had been based on the impression that the firm was white-owned and guilty of charging exorbitant fees.

She said the resolution was largely based on a material mistake of fact.

Full report in The Herald (subscription needed)

Gray Moodliar Inc v Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and Another