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Importers’ Association joins in legal battle against Terminal Operators, Shipping Coys …Case adjourned to December 1

A Federal High
Court in Lagos on Monday  adjourned a suit brought by the Association of
Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) against the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) till Dec.
1 for hearing.

This is coming
as the Lagos Shippers’ Association applied
 to be joined in the suit between the   shipping lines, terminal
operators and the Nigerian Shippers  Council (NSC).
The Presiding
Judge, Ibrahim Buba, explained  that the parties had sought for
declaratory relief.
Buba said that
 the law provides that  parties were at liberty to appeal to court
for declaratory relief.
A declaratory
relief is a judge’s determination (declaratory judgment) of the parties’ rights
under a contract or a statute often requested for information in a lawsuit over
a contract.
The theory of
declaratory relief is that an early resolution of legal rights will resolve
some or all of the other issues in the matter.
According to Buba,
“The law has said that a party is at liberty to appeal to court for declaratory
relief whether it will confer benefit on him or not.  This court shall in
the interest of speedy disposal of this matter allow the party (shippers’
association) to come in as the second defendant since it has
interest in this matter”.
It would be
recalled  that the shipping agencies had filed a case against the
Shippers’ Council about two weeks ago in protest against a public
notice   reversing   storage fees at the ports.
The  Council
had reversed   the  charges   to   the 
May 1, 2009  rates approved by the Transport Minister.
The NSC, as the
port economic regulator, also ordered an increase in the free storage period at
the ports from three to seven days.
Also  on Monday,
the Counsel to the second defendant (Shippers’ Association Lagos State), Mr
Osuala Nwagbara, said the association was interested in the case filed by ASLA
against the NSC.
He said, “It does
not matter if it takes longer time to attain justice. It does not matter if
other people come in.
The important thing
is that there is an agreement between the lawyers and the court to speed up the
Our position is the
position of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the council should be respected,
being the umpire.”
On the other
hand,  the  Councsel to NSC, Mr Emeka Akabogu, said that the joint
defence by the shippers’ association was part of court procedures to enable all
parties tie their works.
The Ports Regulator
also  directed shipping companies to reduce their shipping line agency
fees from N26, 500 to N23, 850 per 20 ft container and from N48,000 to N40, 000
per 40ft container.

It also directed
shipping agencies to refund container deposits to importers and agents within
10 working days after the return of the empty containers.
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