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Shoprite faces a legal battle over $10 million dollar debt, prevented from transferring assets

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The Federal High Court in Lagos State has given an order of Mareva injunction barring South African retail enterprise, Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Limited from transferring its assets out of the country’s jurisdiction over a $10 million debt it owed.

The Mareva injunction was given by Justice Mohammed Liman who ruled.in favour of a Nigerian company, A.I.C Limited, which got a $10 million judgement back in 2018, over a breach of contract lawsuit.

According to papers issued by the court, the $10 million judgement was recorded in favour of A.I.C Limited against Shoprite by Justice Lateef Lawal Akapo of the Lagos State High Court in Lagos.

Shoprite who were not satisfied with the judgement, went to appeal but it also lost the case at the Court of Appeal and now looks poised to go to the Supreme Court in which a final decision in the matter will be taken.

Last month, on the 14 of July, 2020, a copy of the Mareva injunction issued by Justice Liman prevented, “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 directed 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.”

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The A.I.C Limited had as far back as 2012, sued Retail Supermarket Nigeria Limited and Shoprite Checkers for alleged violation of contract terms.

The Nigerian company stated it was the one, who encouraged Shoprite Checkers to come invest in Nigeria and it also claimed it exposed the South African retailer on the business opportunities available in the country, with the hope that they will go into a joint venture.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian company noted that talks with Shoprite had reached an advance level and it had incorporated A.I.C Shoprite Nigeria Ltd with aim of entering into a joint venture, but Shoprite abandoned the arrangement and went behind their back to establish its outlet in 2005.

However, Shoprite claimed that it had no agreement with the Nigerian company, both the Appeal Court and the High Court stated the strings of exchanged correspondences between the both parties revealed that Shoprite and A.IC Limited actually did agree to a joint venture.

Maintaining the High Court judgement, the Court of Appeal also held, “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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Abudulrasheed Mubarak is a freelance content creator. He starting his writing career in 2011. He is a graduate of Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi in Urban and Regional Planning.

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