$9bn judgement: FG vows to appeal decision, protect Nigeria’s assets

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STATEMENT BY THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF JUSTICE.

“Process & Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) .v. Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We can confirm that on Friday 16 August 2019 at the United Kingdom, Business & Property Courts (the Commercial Court), Mr Justice Butcher, granted P&ID’s enforcement application which converts the arbitration award secured by P&ID into a domestic UK judgement against Nigeria.
In the arbitration P&ID claimed to have expended US$40 million in preliminary expenses on an accelerated gas development project in Nigeria’s OMLs 67 and 123, but P&ID never began the construction of the project facility in Nigeria.
Despite this, P&ID’s claim in the arbitration was for loss of profit for the entire twenty years of the project. The claim started at US$1.9 billion but P&ID later increased its claim to US$5.9 billion.
After the Tribunal ruled that Nigeria had breached the contract, Nigeria successfully applied to have that award set aside by the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The Arbitral Tribunal ignored this decision and on 31st January 2017 rendered its Final Award against Nigeria through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the sum of $US6.597 billion together with pre-award interest at the rate of 7% per annum effective from 20th March 2013 and post award interest at the same rate till date of payment.
This interest has increased the size of the award to a sum in excess of US$9 billion.
In defending enforcement of the award, the Federal Republic relied upon an expert report analysing the damages given to P&ID. The expert concluded that the damages:
• were “clearly unreasonable and manifestly excessive and exorbitant”;
• “went far beyond any legitimate protection of the commercial interests of P&ID”;
• were “completely wrong and obviously unjustifiable”; and
• overcompensated “P&ID on a, frankly, gargantuan scale, and impose[d] a punitive award on Nigeria”.
It was on these grounds, and others, that the Federal Republic took all available steps to resist enforcement before the courts of the United Kingdom. Other efforts are being taken in the courts of the United States of America to protect Nigeria interests.
Ruling of the Commercial Court
Despite these efforts, the award from the arbitration has now been recognised by the English court.
Contrary to some reports, however, enforcement cannot commence against Nigeria’s assets.
The judge also ordered that P&ID cannot enforce the judgement against Nigeria until an as-yet uncertain date after the Courts resume from their current vacation.
The Federal Ministry of Justice wishes to reassure the general public that Nigeria is considering all available options to appeal the decision, to defends its rights, and to protect the assets of the people of the Federal Republic.
Nigeria, therefore, intends to strongly avail itself of all defences customarily afforded to sovereign states under the United Kingdom Sovereign Immunity Act at any such enforcement actions.

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