Retail Giant, Shoprite Checkers (PTY) has been issues an order of mareva injunction by a Federal High Court in Lagos restraining it from transferring its assets to escape a $10 million judgement debt.
The order was issued by Justice Mohammed Liman in favour of a Nigerian firm, A.I.C. Limited which secured a the $10m judgment, in 2018, against Shoprite in a breach of contract lawsuit.
According to court papers, the $10m judgment was entered, as at 2018,in favour of A.I.C. Limited against Shoprite by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.
Shoprite appealed the judgment in the Appellate Court, but lost. It has now furthered its appeal in the Supreme Court.
Justice Liman’s injunction read: “the judgment debtor/1st respondent,” and its privies “from transferring, assigning, charging, disposing of its trademark, franchise and intellectual property in a manner that will alter, dissipate or remove these non-cash assets and other assets, including but not limited to trade receivables, trade payables, payment for purchase of merchandise, from within the jurisdiction of this honourable court.”
The judge also mandated the second respondent, Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited, “to disclose its audited financial statements for the years ending 2018 and 2019 to enable the judgment creditor/applicant determine the judgment debtor’s/respondent’s funds in its custody in order to preserve same in satisfaction of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No: CA/L/288/2018.”
Recall that A.I.C. Limited had, in 2012, sued Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Limited; and Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited for alleged breach of contract.
The Nigerian firm said it was the one, who invited the South African retail supermarket operators to Nigeria and opened their eyes to business opportunities in the country, with a view that they would go into a joint venture.
The Nigerian firm, however, said after talks had reached an advanced stage and it had incorporated A.I.C.-Shoprite Nigeria Ltd. in the hope of a joint venture for establishment, Shoprite abandoned the agreement and went behind its back to set up its outfit in 2005.
Shoprite claimed that it had no contract with the Nigerian firm. However, the High court and the Court of Appeal said the series of exchanged correspondences between the parties confirmed that A.I.C Limited and Shoprite agreed to a joint venture.
The Court of Appeal submitted that: “There is evidence in the record that the 1st appellant allowed the respondent to search for a suitable site for the partnership project and to apply for a lease of land for the partnership project. These involved time, energy and money. The court below held that the conduct of the parties demonstrated intention to enter into a legal relation in respect of the partnership project. I agree.”
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