Following Justice Mohammed Liman’s ruling, the Federal High Court in Lagos decided that Honeywell Flour Mills Plc. should receive N72.2 billion in damages for its protracted legal dispute with Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
In an effort to close the company and pay off its debts to the bank, Ecobank issued an ex parte order freezing Honeywell’s accounts. Ecobank agreed to reimburse Honeywell for any losses in exchange for the ex parte order.
Ecobank pursued its case to the Supreme Court, where it also lost but was not pleased, and the Court of Appeals modified the judgment in December 2015.
As a result of their inability to fulfill their obligations to stakeholders, Honeywell Flour Mills’ activities almost came to an end.
Over 2,000 employees’ jobs were in danger, and their reputation and business operations were severely damaged since they couldn’t handle Letters of Credit, pay distributors, or pay suppliers.
In 2016, the Court of Appeal overturned the ex-parte orders following an appeal, allowing Honeywell Flour Mills to carry on with business as usual.
According to the Court of Appeal, Ecobank’s request to have its assets frozen should never have been granted in the first place. The Supreme Court subsequently upheld this in July 2018.
Honeywell Flour Mills sought that Ecobank fulfill its commitment to compensate the company for the loss sustained as a result of the ex-parte order, which was invalid, after the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling. In an effort to recoup damages, the firm sued Ecobank for more than N72 billion.
“The ex parte order given in favor of the defendant was the basis for denying the plaintiff access to the money in his account. Therefore, I firmly believe that Honeywell, the plaintiff, is entitled to the claimed sum. Because the document’s contents are the best evidence and speak for themselves, the defendant’s claim in his written address is invalid, he said.
“The winding-up regulations’ provisions are very explicit and unmistakable. The defendant cannot claim ignorance of this clause because not knowing the law is not an acceptable defense, and it is even less acceptable if the defendant is an attorney. As a result, the ex parte application became unlawful.
Despite Ecobank’s arguments contesting the legality and technicalities of the restrictions and attempting to have the lawsuit dismissed, Justice Liman determined that the court was beyond a reasonable doubt convinced that Ecobank had broken the law and significantly harmed Honeywell Flour Mills with the asset freeze.
“The defendant’s arguments in this regard cannot be sustained,” he claims. I have no reluctance to approve the plaintiff’s request for relief.
After carefully reviewing the facts and the arguments, the court reached a judgment in favor of Honeywell Flour Mills and granted all four reliefs requested, totaling N72.2 billion.
“The ex parte order given in favor of the defendant was the basis for denying the plaintiff access to the money in his account. Therefore, I firmly believe that Honeywell, the plaintiff, is entitled to the claimed sum.