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Burned designer suit saga: Lawyer, tailor seek out-of-court settlement

A city lawyer who has taken his tailor to court for destroying his Sh35,000 suit over two years ago, has asked for time to settle the matter out of court.

Appearing before High Court judge Janet Mulwa this morning (Wednesday) lawyer Gatheru Gathemia asked the court for two weeks to reach an agreement with Mr Daniel Onyango Dinda.

Mr Gathemia sued the tailor in 2021 demanding compensation for burning his Herr Widman grey suit, which he purchased for Sh35,000 from a boutique in Nairobi.

The case was dismissed by resident magistrate Caroline Ndumia, of small claims court on April 12, 2022 noting that a contract entered between the lawyer and his tailor, for him to replace the suit, was made under duress, making it illegal.

“We are requesting for two weeks to see whether we can reach an out-of-court settlement,” Mr Gathemia told the court through his advocate.

The court directed the matter to be mentioned on April 8 to confirm whether they would have reached an agreement, failure to which she will give a hearing date.

Evidence filed in court showed that Mr Gathemia purchased the suit in May 2021 and took it to the tailor in the first week of that month. He wanted the suit adjusted to fit him, a job Mr Dinda has been doing for him over the years.

Mr Dinda said he did the job and in the process of ironing the coat, it was burned.

The tailor said he was taken to the lawyer’s office where he made a written undertaking on June 28, 2021, to replace the suit by monthly instalments of Sh3,000.

But Mr Gathemia took away the trousers and left the destroyed jacket, he said.

The lawyer took the matter to court after Mr Dinda failed to honour the agreement.

The court dismissed the case noting they were client and customer of more than ten years and the fact that the tailor had apologised for the incident and was remorseful.

On the contract, the magistrate said, “The respondent, in fear of what would happen signed the contract.”

In the appeal, Mr Gathemia had faulted the magistrate for finding that the damage was occasioned by ‘derelict ironing of the garment’ and the incident was proof of gross unmitigated negligence as Dinda was a tailor of many years and ought to have known that the garment should have been taken to a suitable laundry for washing and ironing, after the repair.

He also said Mr Dinda admitted in evidence that he was negligent and destroyed his ‘newly purchased, valuable and expensive suit’.

He argued that by ironing the suit, the tailor disregarded his instructions and deviated from common practice of tailoring.

Mr Gathemia further said the magistrate held that the tailor admitted signing the contract and that the terms, in the contract were agreed on but on the same breadth goes ahead to conclude that the contract was procured by way of coercion, undue influence and duress, which is a total contradiction

Mr Dinda has opposed the appeal arguing that the matter was dismissed on merit and on the basis that he was forced into signing the contract, making it illegal.

“That he used to threaten me and vowed to pursue the matter at whatever costs and time to teach me a lesson irrespective of the strength of my case and will not stop at anything unless he gets a decision favourable to him and cannot imagine to be defeated in a case by a mere tailor like me,” he said in reply.

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