Funding for Please Call Me case against Vodacom revealed

2013-08-12 10:18

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A group of wealthy businessmen have emerged as the financial backers of a former Vodacom employee’s civil claim involving the company’s Please Call Me service.

Pretoria attorney Chris Schoeman and two partners recently formed a company, Sterling-Rand, to fund civil cases that may have some merit, Business Day reported today.

The company picks up the legal fees on behalf of plaintiffs and takes a cut of any settlement that may be achieved.

Nkosana Makate took Vodacom to court to get compensation for the Please Call Me service he claims he invented in 2000. He said the executive for product development at the time, Philip Geissler, promised in an oral agreement to facilitate remuneration negotiations with the company.

According to the newspaper, Sterling-Rand has funded Makate to the tune of R5 million in legal fees in his case against Vodacom.

Schoeman said: “It is a well-known fact that in SA the ordinary person who has a legitimate claim against a large corporation or some kind of state-owned entity has little chance of success.

“It was a common tactic that large organisations used their deep pockets to out-litigate a plaintiff and thus deny them justice,” he was quoted as saying.

Schoeman said the firm’s analysis of Makate’s case suggested that Vodacom could have benefited as much as R45 billion from the concept.

“It’s been very stressful, being in court and under cross-examination,” Makatetold City Press during an interview.

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