Court adjourns N1billion suit against JC Decaux

The court case instituted by Nigerian Out-of-Home agency, MediaWorth, has been adjourned to February 2018 due to the fact that the presiding judge was away on vacation.

The legal action was filed by MediaWorth recently at the Federal High Court, Lagos seeking redress for alleged usurpation of bill board site by JC Decaux.

MediaWorth is asking the court to award it a whopping N1billion as damages for the alleged infringement by JCD on its billboard site in Lagos State.

Worried about the likely outcome of the case and its implication on its reputation and finances, JC Decaux has been frantically pressuring the Nigerian agency for an out-of-court settlement, all to no avail, according to a source close to the plaintiff.

Besides, it was the plaintiff contention that the alleged usurpation have deprived it revenue running into several millions of naira, a severe effect in its business operations in the period under review.

The source added that MediaWorth is not keen for an Out-of-Court settlement because of the fear that it may be short-changed by JC Decaux. The Nigeria Outdoor advertising company is said to be worried that the terms that the French multinational agency may put on the table may not be attractive to them compared to the N1billion damages they are seeking in court.

According to court findings, the Nigerian outdoor company said; “the illegal incursion of JC Decaux on our legally acquired site has caused disruption on our operations, resulting in loss of businesses. This has caused in a recent decision to disengage 22 members of our staff, as our company could no longer meet up with overhead expenses in the face of dwindling revenue.”

According to industry sources, JC Decaux has since its entry into Nigeria resorted to various unethical business practices which are against global best practices or even the relevant law of the land. The company aided by its access to funds and deep ties with government has been able to outmuscle local operators and shut them out of potential business opportunities.

A recent report on COMPLETENEWS, an online news platform, revealed that MediaWorth, has been at the receiving end of JCD alleged illegality in Nigeria.

In a statement of claims obtained by the online media, it was revealed that sometime in 2012, Media Worth had embarked on strategic sites hunting and found the Oworoshoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge suitable for a proposed digital electronic billboard. It immediately applied to Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency(LASAA) for approval.

But LASAA in a letter dated 18th October, 2011 referred MediaWorth to the Federal Ministry of Works which is statue-empowered by the virtue of Federal Highways Act to grant approvals for right of way on Federal roads. Consequently, an application was made on 22nd, February, 2012 by the local advertising firm to the Federal Ministry of Works. The Nigerian agency received an approval on 12 March 2012 and was asked to pay N2 million to the federal government coffers.

MediaWorth made the payment and began mobilising men and materials to the site. But not long after it commence construction on the site; the Nigerian company received a stop work order from the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and later Ministry of Town Planning and Urban Development, citing public safety concerns.

While MediaWorth was still in the process of getting the controversial order lifted, it was gathered that LASAA revoked the approval initially granted. At this stage, according to court papers filed by MediaWorth, it had invested over N150 million. The Nigerian agency also claimed it is still indebted to the tune of $100,000 to its technical suppliers

MediaWorth also said that after the alleged illegal revocation of its site, armed policemen invaded the property to destroy its erected structures. It also stated that the site has been illegally hijacked and handed over to JC Decaux to construct an LED board in the guise of public safety.

Meanwhile, JC Decaux in a counter affidavit deposed before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, initially claimed to have gotten necessary approvals from relevant government agencies including the Federal Ministry of Works.

However, upon discovering that the Federal Ministry of Works, which is the first defendant in the case denied issuance of approval to any advertising firm other than MediaWorth, J.C Decaux recanted and claimed it acted in error and therefore did not have FG’s approval. By law, only the Federal Ministry of Works can give approval for right of way on Oworoshoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge and Federal Highways across Nigeria.

Interestingly, MediaWorth is not the only Nigerian OOH agency engaged in a legal tussle with JCD, the French company has also been dragged to court by Moving Media for alleged usurpation of site. While the multinational company also has a pending court case with Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN).



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    No comments found.