Thursday, 7 September 2017

Court awards N50bn damages against bank for libel

A Lagos High Court in Ikeja has ordered Stanbic-IBTC Bank Plc and CRC Credit Bureau Ltd to pay a stockbroking firm, Longterm Global Capital Ltd, N50billion as damages for alleged libel.

Justice Babajide Candide-Johnson made the order after upholding Longterm Global Capital’s claim that first and second defendants Stanbic-IBTC and CRC Credit Bureau published a false allegation that the firm owed the bank N543, 030.843 which had yielded an interest of N213, 537, 753 as at October 31, 2012.

Justice Candide-Johnson directed the defendants to publish in seven days, a retraction and apology to the claimant on the cover pages of Sunday and Monday editions of the Punch, Thisday and Guardian newspapers, in respect of the alleged false indebtedness publication.

The judge also directed CRC Credit Bureau to immediately delete from its electronically published data bank and all other publications, all references to the alleged indebtedness of the bank’s customer to the bank.

He further made an order of perpetual injunction restraining Stanbic-IBTC Bank PLC and CRC Credit Bureau Limited, from further publishing any other materials or details relating to the alleged indebtedness of the claimant.

Finally, the court ordered the payment of interest on the above judgement sum at the rate of 10 percent per annum from the date of judgment until the date of the final payment by the defendants in line with the provision of Order 35 Rule 4, of High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2012.

In its statement of claim, Longterm Global Capital Ltd said due to the “deliberate, malicious and/or injurious falsehood” published by the defendants in relation to its credit status, it was unable to access any credit facility from all financial institutions in Nigeria,

It averred that the defendants’ action adversely affected it’s business reputation and it had been effectively blacklisted and classified as a bad or delinquent borrower and consequently shut-out of Nigeria’s credit system.

In urging the court to dismiss the claimant’s suit, the bank averred that it did not author the credit status report cited by the claimant but merely provided the second defendant with the status of the credit facility obtained by the claimant from it in discharge of its obligations under the guidelines for the Licensing, Operation and Regulations of Credit Bureau in Nigeria (CBN Licensing Guidelines).

It also averred that the aforementioned information it provided to the second defendant was true and consistent with its records, and were not borne out of ill-will or malice and were not intended to disparage the claimant’s trade of business as alleged.

Stanbic/IBTC also stated that the claimant’s indebtedness arose as a result of a credit in the sum of N600 million, by virtue of letter of offer dated March 27, 2008 adding that the said indebtedness had been subject of litigation since December 23, 2009, in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1491/09, Re; Longterm Global Capital Limited and Patrick Akinkotu vs. Stanbic/IBTC, Appeal No. CA/L/194/2011, Stanbic IBTC Vs. Longterm Global Capital and Patrick Akinkotu.

It added that a notice of appeal dated May 13, 2013, in respect of the matter had been filed at the Supreme Court of Nigeria on a Motion on Notice dated May 13, 2013.

It also stated that the said indebtedness had been acknowledged in the judgment by the Federal High Court in suit number FHC/L/CS/1491/09, Re; Longterm Global Capital Limited and Patrick Akinkotu vs. Stanbic/IBTC.

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