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Appeal Court adjourns Chevron’s suit against Brittania-U on sale of oil blocks

By on January 17, 2017

Exactly two and a half years after Chevron United States Inc. and others instituted an appeal against the judgment of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, which assumed jurisdiction to entertain a suit brought against them by Brittania-U Nigeria Limited over the divestment of Chevron’s interest in Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 52, 53 and 55, the Court of Appeal, Lagos has fixed a date for hearing.

Brittania-U said in a statement yesterday that the three-man panel led by Justice J S Ikyegh, after listening to the lawyers representing all the parties, fixed June 5, 2017, for hearing of the substantive suit.

The statement identified the other appellants to include: Chevron U. S.A. Inc, BNP Paribas Securities Corp., Mr. Hermant Patel and Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited.

According to the statement, when the matter came up at the weekend, counsel to the respondent (Brittania-U Nigeria Limited), Mr. Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), informed the court of a pending application, praying the court to dismiss the appellants appeal for want of diligent prosecution because of failure of the appellants to transmit record or file appellants’ brief.

He stated that the appellants in the meantime filed a motion for extension of time to compile and transmit records of appeal despite the fact that Chevron was the one who filed the appeal since two and half years ago after the lower court ruled that it had jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Furthermore, Owonikoko informed the court that his client had an application for the dismissal of the appeal but that it had been overtaken by events.

But the appellants counsel, Etuwewe told the court that the record of appeal had been compiled and transmitted to the Court of Appeal.

Brittania-U Nigeria Limited did not oppose the application.

The court thereafter granted the appellants’ counsel’s application to compile and transmit records of appeal.

The court also awarded the  sum of N20, 000 in favour of Brittania-U Nigeria Limited whose counsel then withdrew their motion for dismissal of the appeal.

“Brittania-U Nigeria Limited had approached the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos, asking the court to declare that by the final binding offer made by the plaintiff to the first defendant on November 14, 2013, at the invitation of the first defendant in the sum of $1.015 billion for acquisition of the 40 per cent participating interest of Chevron Nigeria Limited in OMLs 52, 53 and 56 has been accepted by the first defendant by its conducts, oral and written representations made thereafter on which the plaintiff relied and acted to its detriment, and that by provision of the Irrevocable Standby Letter of Credit for the sum of $250 million opened in favour of the first defendant, to remain in force until September 14, 2014, as part payment; and further provision of firm letter of commitment by the plaintiff’s bankers for payment of the balance of $765 million demanded for and duly furnished to the first defendant on November 15, 2013, the parties have entered into binding contract for the acquisition of the OMLs 52, 53 and 55 by the plaintiff from the first defendant for valuable consideration,” the statement explained.

Brittania-U is also seeking an order in the alternative to other reliefs granting special damages against the first and second defendants in the sum of over $10 billion or so much thereof as the court may adjudge fair and equitable  as the enterprise value lost by the plaintiff on account for failure or breach of the contract and exemplary damages in the sum of $1 billion (or its naira equivalent) for the wrongful interference by the second to fifth defendants acting in active connivance or collusion with first defendant to unjustly prejudice and frustrate the contractual relationship between the plaintiff and the first defendant.