$10m debt: Vacation judge declines to hear Shoprite’s urgent application

A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, on Monday declined to hear an application seeking to discharge a Mareva injunction barring South African retail company, Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Ltd, from transferring its assets.

The vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, said that the case was not urgent enough to be heard during the court’s ongoing vacation.

Supreme reports that Shoprite’s counsel, Mrs Funke Adekoya (SAN), had on Sept. 1 approached the vacation judge with an application, seeking to set aside the Mareva injunction.

Supreme also reports that Mareva is a type of interlocutory relief designed to freeze the assets of a defendant, in appropriate circumstances, pending the determination of a plaintiff’s claim.

On July 14, Justice Mohammed Liman of the same court made the Mareva injunction in favour of a Nigerian firm, A.I.C. Ltd, which, in 2018, secured a $10 million judgment against Shoprite in a breach of contract lawsuit.

A.I.C. Ltd had obtained the Mareva injunction against the backdrop of Shoprite’s announcement to pull out of Nigeria.

Justice Liman had made the injunction restraining Shoprite from transferring, assigning, charging, disposing of its trademark, franchise and intellectual property in a manner that will alter, dissipate or remove non-cash assets and other assets, including but not limited to trade receivables, trade payables and payment for the purchase of merchandise from within the jurisdiction of the court.

The judge also mandated the second respondent, Retail Supermarket Nigeria Ltd, to disclose its audited financial statements for the years ended 2018 and 2019, to enable the judgment creditor/applicant determine the judgment debtor’s/respondent’s funds in its custody and in order to preserve same in satisfaction of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No: CA/L/288/2018.

Supreme reports that the $10 million judgment was in 2018 entered in favour of A.I.C. Ltd against Shoprite by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.

Displeased with the judgment, Shoprite had gone on appeal but it equally lost and it has now gone to the Supreme Court. 

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