Nigerian firm ordered to pay Swiss company $12m

A Federal High Court, Lagos has ordered a Nigerian firm, Westcom Technologies and Energy services Limited to pay the sum of $12,064,435 to a swiss based company Transclear S.A.

The money represents demurrage accrued on several ship load of bulk cement sold to a defendant company on credit by the plaintiff company.

The judgment, delivered by Justice Musa Kurya was sequel to a suit filed before the court by Transclear S.A. counsel, Olumide Sofowora (SAN) on behalf of the company.

The Managing Director of the Swiss firm, Mr Attila Paulovits while being led in evidence by his counsel Sofowora told the court that on the 7th of September 2009 the plaintiff company entered into an agreement to supply five cargoes of bulk cement to Westcom Technologies and Energy services Company on credit and the company was supposed to pay for the consignment as per the terms of the said agreement.

The bulk of the cement were delivered as agreed but were not discharged from the vessel by the defendant as and when due resulting in the accrual of demurrage on all the vessels to the tune of $8,500,000 which became  due and payable to the various ship owners.

Paulovit further told the court that the defendant company pleaded with the plaintiff to continue to supply it with cement based on the terms and agreement and promised to defray the outstanding demurrage, which resulted in supplying additional four ships loads to them.

He said the statement of account of the demurrage accrued on the nine vessels shows the defendant was indebted to the plaintiff to the time of $12,063,435. Base on several agreements and promises the defendant promised to pay while he came to Nigeria on several occasions and held several meetings with both Messers  Niyi Oyedele and Kola Sowande who are the chairman and Managing Director of Westcom Technologies and Energy services Ltd respectively who promised to pay the debt but till date the defendant has failed, and refused to pay the outstanding sum.

In its defence, the defendant’s company Managing Director Mr Kola Sowande while being led in evidence by his counsel Mr C.H Nwuke adopted his witness statement on oath.

Under cross examination, he admitted that indeed and in truth the sum of US $12,063,444,96 was due and owing to the plaintiff and that the money has not been paid, but contended that the plaintiff claim is not truly a claim for demurrage as to confer  the requisite jurisdiction on the court to entertain the plaintiff’s legal action.

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