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Court name
High Court of Zambia
Case number
HP 1016 of 2017

Mooto (SG Zambia Association of Timber and Forestry Based Industries) v Director of Forestry and Another (HP 1016 of 2017) [2018] ZMHC 245 (28 June 2018);

Law report citations
Media neutral citation
[2018] ZMHC 245
Headnote and holding:

This matter dealt with an appeal following the first respondent’s decision to suspend the issuance of production and conveyance licenses that had been paid for by the applicant and the association he represented. The first respondent did this without consulting the applicant. By failing to do so, the applicant contended that the decision was procedurally unfair and illegal. This was followed by a declaration by the Minister of Lands and Natural that banned the export of all timber species for an indefinite period.

The applicant raised three grounds of judicial review, namely; illegality, procedural impropriety and irrationality and sought damages for abuse of office. 

The issue to be determined therefore, was whether the first respondent's decision to suspend the production and conveyance licenses was tainted with illegality, procedural impropriety and irrationality?

The court found that section the Forests Act empowered the first respondent to suspend licences but this must be done with notice in writing to the concerned holder. Therefore, by failing to do so the action taken by the first respondent was illegal. Additionally, the minister’s decision to ban timber exports was procedurally irregular as it was not supported by any provision in the Forests Act.

However, with irrationality, the court held that for a decision to be irrational, it must be so outrageous that it defies logic or accepted moral standards. Therefore, because the respondent’s decisions were based on the need to protect forests, the ground of irrationality failed.

The appeal was upheld, and suspended licenses were reinstated.

Mapani-Kawimbe, J.