A legal ding- dong between the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), may have begun as a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday struck out a suit brought by STOAN against the Shippers’ Council.
Industry watchers believe that though the suit was struck out for non-compliance with the rules of court, the status quo would still remain, meaning that the terminal operators could continue to collect their controversial charges.
The Presiding Judge, Ibrahim Buba, while taking his decision, said that the parties which came by way of originating summons, did not tell the court the issues (questions) for determination.
“Since the court cannot proceed without knowing the right and interest of the parties which are inextricably tied to the question of determination, the court cannot proceed on that, “ Buba said.
The terminal operators under the aegis of STOAN on Oct. 31 secured an interim injunction stoping the NSC from implementing the directive on port charges; sequel to Council’s Oct. 29 publication of an advertisement announcing the reversal of storage charges at the ports, which was in force as at May 1, 2009, to take effect from Nov. 3.
The Coucil which also ordered an increase in the storage period at the ports from three days to seven days, similarly directed shipping companies to reduce their charges from N26,500 to N23,850 (20 ft container) and from N48,000 to N40,000 (40 ft container).
This according to the Council would imply that shipping agencies should refund container deposits to importers and agents within 10 days after the return of the empty containers.
In the meantime,, the case brought by the shipping line agencies, under the aegis of the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) against the NSC was adjourned to Nov. 17 for further hearing.