Court Fixes New date for Legal Fireworks against JC Decaux

The full legal fireworks in a suit filed against JC Decaux, a leading global outdoor company will resume May 8th, 2019 as the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed the date for continued hearing.

Recall that MediaWorth had earlier filed the suit against JC Decaux for allegedly hijacking an approved outdoor site of the company by the multinational outdoor advertising firm.

Justice Saliu Seidu fixed the date last Wednesday, March 3, 2019 to enable him hear all pending applications filed by parties in the suit.

These pending applications include JC Decaux’s Preliminary Objection to the suit, arguing that the act of LASAA by revoking the approval granted to the Media Worth ought to have been challenged within three months when the revocation was purportedly done. Also, Media Worth’s response to JC Decaux’s objection amongst other applications would be heard at the next adjourned date.

Media Worth had sued JC Decaux, to seek redress for alleged usurpation of its approved billboard site by JC Decaux.

In the suit, MediaWorth is asking the court to award it a whopping N1 billion as damages for the alleged infringement on its billboard sit e by JC Decaux.

Joined in the suit along MJC Decaux are the Federal Ministry of Works and Lagos State Signage & Advertising Agency (LASAA) as 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.

Mediaworth had in its statement of claims stated that the illegal incursion of JC Decaux, a French multinational agency, on its space has caused disruption on its operations, resulting to loss of businesses.

The Nigerian outdoor company also blamed JC Decaux’s incursion for its recent decision to disengage 22 members of its staff, as it could no longer meet up with overhead expenses in the face of dwindling revenue.

MediaWorth in its statement of claims stated that sometime in 2012, it went on strategic sites hunting and found Oworoshoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge suitable for a proposed digital electronic billboard and approached, LASAA, the regulatory body for approval.

According to MediaWorth, LASAA had in a letter dated October 18, 2011 advised it to approach 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 February 22, 2012 by the local advertising firm to the Federal Ministry of Works and on March 12 2012, approval was granted amongst other requirements which included payment of N2 million to the federal government coffers.

The approval fee was paid according to court documents. Strangely, as soon as Media Worth mobilized men and materials to site, there was a stop work order from Lagos State Ministry of Environment and later Ministry of Town Planning and Urban Development citing public safety concerns.

This interference according to outdoor agencies breached normal laid down procedures for regulation of billboards in Lagos State.

While Media Worth was reaching out to get the order lifted, it was gathered that LASAA revoked the approval initially granted. At this stage Mediaworth claimed it had invested over N150 million. In court documents, Mediaworth claimed it is still indebted to the tune of $100,000 to its technical suppliers.

Mediaworth claimed that after the alleged illegal revocation of its site, armed policemen were drafted to the site to destroy its erected structures.  Mediaworth also claimed that the site that was illegally hijacked from them under nebulous guise of public safety was handed over to JC Decaux to construct an LED board similar to what Media Worth was erecting before demolition.

JC Decaux in an 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, when the Federal Ministry of Works, which is the first defendant in the case denied issuance of approval to any advert firm other than Mediaworth, J.C Decaux recanted in an another affidavit claiming it had made such a claim in error and therefore did not have the approval from the federal ministry to construct any structure on the said location.


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