The Nigerian government has secured a landmark victory in its bid to overturn a $10 billion judgement awarded against it in the suit instituted by Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID).
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In 2017, a tribunal had ruled that Nigeria should pay P&ID $6.6 billion as damages, as well as pre- and post-judgment interest at 7 percent. The current outstanding amount is estimated at $10 billion.
However, the federal government had approached the court to establish that the contract was awarded on illegal terms.
Through its lawyers, the Nigerian government told the court in July that P&ID officials paid bribes to get the contract.
P&ID reportedly entered a gas supply and processing agreement with Nigeria in 2010.
The company later claimed Nigeria breached the terms of the contract and dragged the country to court.
While making efforts to overturn the judgement, the Nigerian government applied for an extension of time and relief from sanctions.
Legit.ng highlights some key points in the judgement which was delivered on Thursday, September 4, by Ross Cranston, a judge of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.
Extension of time and relief from sanctions
1. The court granted Nigeria’s applications for an extension of time and relief from sanctions.
Refusal to rush to enforce the $10 billion judgement awarded against Nigeria
2. The judge ruled that it is important to not to rush to enforce the fines earlier instituted against Nigeria as doing so may threaten the integrity of the arbitration system and implicate it in an alleged fraudulent scheme.
Nigeria successfully established a prima facie case of fraud against P&ID
3. Judge Cranston states that Nigeria has established a strong prima facie case of fraud in the P&ID contract and may suffer substantial injustice if its application for an extension of time is refused.
No prejudice to P&ID in being subject to fraud trial
4. Having established a strong prima facie case of fraud, the judge ruled that there can be no prejudice to P&ID in being subject to a full inquiry into the fraud at trial.
The $10 billion awarded against Nigeria is liable to be set aside
5. According to the ruling, the fine awarded to P&ID is worthless as it is liable to be set aside as having been procured by fraud at trial
The court rules in favour of Nigeria regarding the delay in the case
6. The court agrees with Nigeria that the alleged fraud in the contract is complex in character and continuing.
"Even on my preliminary examination it comprises a number of quite different strands. What occurred in this case was deliberately concealed. Especially with the international advisers it engaged, P&ID wore the cloak of legitimacy. In the circumstances which Nigeria has prima facie established, it acted reasonably in its investigations and in pursuing settlement," the judge ruled.
Possibility of fraud trial or out of court settlement
7. Based on the new evidence and arguments by Nigeria, the case will either go back to arbitration/fraud trial or both parties (Nigeria and P&ID)will now settle out of court.
Meanwhile, Abubakar Malami, the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, has said that the federal government has learnt some lessons with the imbroglio that ensued relating to the P&ID contract.
Malami stated this while presenting keynote addresses during the African Arbitration day at the virtual international conference organized by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), Babcook University, and the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).
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