Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos will this morning hear the case bought before it by the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) against the Nigerian Shippers Council over the reversal of shipping companies’ charges at the port.
At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, Justice Buba adjourned the case to give the Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), which is acting as a second defendant in the suit, time to study an affidavit filed by the Counsel to ASLA, Mr. Chidi Ilogu yesterday morning.
Justice Buba said the court ordinarily would not have sat yesterday but for the seriousness it attached to the proceedings but had to adjourn the case because the plaintiff delayed in presenting the affidavit.
According to him, no processes ought to be filed in the morning of the day for hearing of a case.
“This case was earlier adjourned to Monday 17th November for definite hearing and all processes to be filed and sent by way of advance copies so that the matter will not be delayed.
“Just this morning (yesterday), about 10 minutes back, we were served a paper of close to 30 pages in response to what we filed so we have to look at it before we can reply to some of the issues,” said councel to SALS, Osuala Nwagbara.
On his part, counsel to the Nigerian Shippers Council, Emeka Akabogu asked the court to vacate the ex-parte order granted ASLA and award cost in favor of NSC.
“As we speak, the charges at the port which are the subject of these proceedings are being levied on the shippers of Nigeria which the 1st defendant is established statutorily to protect. If this matter is to be adjourned, we humbly request the court to vacate the existing ex parte order and on what substantial cost in favour of the NSC. The reason being that, the processes which are causing the delay was served to us right in court this morning contrary to the directive of the court,” he said.
But speaking, Ilogu said he did not deliberately seek for an adjournment to delay the matter but wanted the defendant to digest the processes to properly respond to them.
“They (defendant) filed on Wednesday and we needed time to respond and having responded this morning, when the matter came, they said they will need time to look at the documents and we agreed that we can continue on 15th and 16thof December but they turned around and say I was the one delaying the matter,” Ilogu said.
It would be recalled that the NCS had on Wednesday 29th October 2014, published an advertisement directing shipping companies to reduce their shipping line agency charges from N26,500 to N23,850 per TEU and from 48,000 to N40,000 per FEU.
It also directed shipping agencies to refund container deposits to importers and agents within 10 working days after the return of the empty containers.—Ships and Ports