Shoprite/A.I.C saga: Shoprite loses bid to lift restriction order on assets

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A shoprite mall

An attempt by the legal team of South African retail giant, Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Limited to convince the court to lift the Mareva injunction barring it from transferring its assets was declined by the Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday.

A Mareva injunction is a court order freezing a debtor’s assets to prevent them being taken abroad.

The vacation judge at the court, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, said the issues in contention were not urgent enough to be heard during the court’s ongoing vacation.

It would be recalled that Shoprite is seeking to overturn July 14, 2020, Mareva injunction made by Justice Mohammed Liman of the same court in favour of a Nigerian firm, A.I.C. Limited.

A.I.C. Limited, which in 2018 secured a $10m judgment against Shoprite in a breach of contract lawsuit, obtained the mareva injunction against the backdrop of Shoprite’s announcement to pull out of Nigeria.

In his ruling after the hearing of the case, Justice Liman restrained Shoprite “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 the purchase of merchandise, from within the jurisdiction of this honourable court.”

The judge also mandated the 2nd 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.”

The $10m judgment was in 2018 entered in favour of A.I.C. Limited 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 at the Court of Appeal and has now gone to the Supreme Court.

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