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Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa v Sbahle Fire Services CC (230/2019) [2020] ZASCA 90

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Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa v Sbahle Fire Services CC (230/2019) [2020] ZASCA 90

7th August 2020

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1] Sbahle Fire Services CC (Sbahle), instituted action against Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) for payment of R1, 227 999.21 and R9 095 968.47 in respect of fire and safety consultancy services respectively, rendered to PRASA at the latter’s Mabopane Bridge Development Project (the project) over the period from June 2010 to August 2013. On 15 October 2013, PRASA paid to Sbahle an amount of R2 034 938.19 for fire consultancy services rendered over the period June 2010 to November 2012. According to Sbahle, the amount paid by PRASA included the sum of R1, 227 999.21 which Sbahle had claimed for fire consultancy services. However, PRASA instituted a claim in reconvention wherein it claimed the repayment of the R2 034 938.19 it had paid to Sbahle.

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[2] In view of the fact that the aforementioned payment effectively settled what Sbahle had claimed in claim 1, it did not proceed with that claim. It, however, persisted with claim 2. The latter claim is in respect of Safety Consultancy fees. Sbahle relied on the clause of the agreement which it attached to the particulars of claim headed ‘fees’ read in conjunction with a letter written to Sbahle on behalf of PRASA dated 18 December 2018. The project for fire and safety consultancy was intended to commence on 2 January 2009 and was due for completion on 31 May 2010. At all relevant times, it was common cause that the project did not start on the scheduled date but that it was extended beyond 31 May 2010 to at least August 2013.

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