Contempt: Court rules on Acouns’ motion against Abott Feb 25

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos will on February 25, rule on an application by Acouns Nig Ltd seeking the withdrawal of an allegedly contemptuous letter written by a multinational pharmaceutical group and its subsidiaries doiog business under the Abott trade name.

Justice Kehinde Ogundare on January 31, 2024, fixed the date after hearing Acouns’ counsel Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, and Oluseye Opasanya, SAN, for the 3rd – 8th defendants (Abbott Companies).

Acouns is the plaintiff/applicant in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/ 1528/2023.

The 1st to eight defendants/respondents are the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Nigeria Customs Service Board, Abbott Rapid DX International Ltd, Abbott Laboratories Inc, Abbott Rapid Diagnostics (PTY) Ltd, Abbott Rapid Diagnostics Jena Gmbh, Abbott Diagnostics Medical Co Ltd and Alere Switzerland GMBH.

At the resumption of proceedings, the court heard the Plaintiff’s application dated November 10, 2023, seeking the withdrawal of the 3rd – 8th defendants’ alleged contemptuous Letter dated October 30, 2023.

Oyetibo adopted the application and other processes and Opasanya adopted the 3rd – 8th sefendants’ processes including additional arguments filed the previous day.

Acouns is asking the court to compel the Abbott Companies’ counsel to withdraw their letter which it said was issued to the whole world affirming that an ex-parte order of the court made on August 28, 2023, had elapsed while their application to discharge the ex-parte order was still pending.

Acouns is also invoking the disciplinary jurisdiction of the court against the Abbott Companies and their counsel.

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After the application was argued, and both parties made their submissions, the court adjourned till February 26, 2024 for ruling on the plaintiff’s application.

In particular, the plaintiff is seeking, “An order that the 3rd-8th defendants shall withdraw or cause to be withdrawn from circulation the letter marked Exhibit ACOUNS-2 in this application, dated October 30, 2023, titled: “To whom it may concern”, “Letter of Comfort”, which was issued and published by their Solicitor, Oluwafikayomi Ogunrinde of Olaniwun Ajayi, whilst their application filed on September 15, 2023, seeking to set aside, discharge or vacate the order made by this court on August 28, 2023, is still pending before this court.

“An order that the letter of withdrawal shall contain, inter alia, the following statements:
(a) “Our letter dated October 30, 2023, titled “To whom it may concern” “Letter of Comfort” “Re: Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1528/2023 Acouns Nigeria Limited v. National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control & 7 Ors.” is hereby withdrawn from circulation;

(b) Our statements in the letter where we declared as follows:

“By virtue of Order 26 Rules 2, 8, 9 and 10 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 (the Rules), the restraining order has automatically lapsed following the expiration of time (14 days from date of filing) allowed by the Rules for hearing and determination of the Application to Discharge. consequently, the restraining order no longer subsists by operation of law.

“We, therefore. affirm that, as of today, there are no identified legal restraints, impediments or injunctive orders arising from the suit.

“Thus, nothing that hinders the importation, distribution or sale of the determine HIV ½ Test kit in Nigeria.’ were wrongfully made.”

“An order that the letter of withdrawal shall be filed in this court and served on the plaintiff’s counsel within seven days of the order of this court.

“An order that the 3rd 8th defendants shall not make any application to this court for the discharge, variation, vacation and/or setting aside of the order of this court made on August 28, 2023, unless and until they have made full compliance with the orders. in paragraph (1), (2), and (3) above.”

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