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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Nigeria Scores Win Against P&ID in $11bn UK Case

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Nigeria has prevailed in a running legal battle against an award of $11 billion against it in favour of P&ID at a UK court.

Recall that in 2017, P&ID won a controversial $6.6 billion arbitration award after arguing that Nigeria failed to fulfill an energy contract. With the interest that has accrued on the award, Nigeria was expected to pay $11 billion.

But Nigeria contested the arbitration in a UK court, arguing that P&ID obtained the contract through bribing government officials.

The legal battle, which spanned over five years in the UK, came to an end today after Robin Knowles, justice of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales, upheld Nigeria’s prayer on the ground that the award was obtained by fraud.

Having accepted Nigeria’s argument, Knowles will now have to choose from three options: to return the award to the tribunal, in whole or in part, for reconsideration; to set the award aside in whole or in part; or to declare the award to be of no effect, in whole or in part.

He has asked the parties to make their arguments on the next line of action at a date to be arranged.

In making his determination, Knowles said: “In the circumstances and for the reasons I have sought to describe and explain, Nigeria succeeds on its challenge under section 68. I have not accepted all of Nigeria’s allegations. But the Awards were obtained by fraud and the Awards were and the way in which they were procured was contrary to public policy.

“What happened in this case is very serious indeed, and it is important that section 68 has been available to maintain the rule of law.

“Section 68 (3) provides: ‘(3) If there is shown to be serious irregularity affecting the tribunal, the proceedings or the award, the court may — (a) remit the award to the tribunal, in whole or in part, for reconsideration, (b) set the award aside in whole or in part, or (c) declare the award to be of no effect, in whole or in part. The court shall not exercise its power to set aside or to declare an award to be of no effect, in whole or in part, unless it is satisfied that it would be inappropriate to remit the matters in question to the tribunal for reconsideration.’

“I was asked by Lord Wolfson KC in closing that should my judgment conclude in favour of Nigeria, as it does, to leave over the question of the order the Court should make so that the parties have the opportunity to present argument once they have considered the judgment. I respect that request and will hear that argument as soon as that can be arranged.”

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