The Court of Appeal in Abuja has ordered an Italian Company, Valvitalia Group SPA, to pay its agent in Nigeria, Energy Equipment and Services Limited, $1.5million as commission for providing technical support to its customers and promoting its products in Nigeria.

A three-man panel of the appellate court affirmed the verdict of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which held that Energy Equipment and Services Limited, having performed its part of the bargain in Nigeria as contained in their agreement, Valvitalia Group, ought to fulfil its part of the bargain by paying the Nigerian firm the $1.5million commission.

Peter Olabisi Ige, a member of the three-man panel, read the lead judgment, while the two others – Moore Adumein and Muhammad Mustapha – consented.

PREMIUM TIMES obtained a copy of the judgment delivered on June 11, 2021, on Tuesday.

Suit

Energy Equipment and Services limited, a Nigerian oil and gas services support and mechanical engineering company dedicated to providing comprehensive range of services to all oil and gas including non-oil and gas industries, had approached the Abuja High Court seeking an order that Valvitalia, a major group operating at the global level in the field of the design, production and supply of equipment and components for energy, marine and civil industries, should pay it $5million or its equivalent in European euros as compensation for a contract breach.

The court presided by V.S. Gaba granted the prayers of the claimant on grounds that Energy Equipment and Services Limited is entitled to a commission from Valvitalia Group with respect to all sales carried out by the foreign company in Nigeria from September 2014 to April 19, 2015 and as it also relates to TOTAL EGINA EPSO Project.

Mr Gaba also ordered that Valvitalia Group should furnish Energy Equipment and Services limited with details of all sales and transactions carried out in respect of TOTAL EGINA EPSO Project from September 2014 till date.

Appeal

Dissatisfied with the judgement of the High Court, the defendants in the suit, Valvitalia Group, Umberto Quadrino and Salvatore Ruggeri, approached the court of Appeal in Abuja praying the court to nullify the judgement of the lower court on grounds that the judgement was against the weight of evidence brought before the court.

But in their ruling on the matter, the appellate court upheld the verdict of the lower court on the ground that there was an agreement between Energy Equipment and Services and Valvitalia Group which was formally signed on April 20, 2015.

Counsel for Valvitalia Group, Ogunmuyiwa Balogun, argued that the said transactions with Energy Equipment and Services were done before the formal agreement was signed.

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But the appellate court agreed with Mr Gaba of the lower court that even before the agreement was made, Valvitalia Group acted in accordance with the agreement by using Energy Equipment and Services’ name as its representative in Nigeria, an act which it said attracts a commission by virtue of the agreement.

Appeal Court judgment

Delivering the lead judgement, Mr Ige said the appellate court cannot fault the compensation or damages awarded by the lower court in favour of Energy Equipment and Services.

The judge agreed with the lower court that Energy Equipment and Services performed its duty under the agency relationship by working diligently for Valvitalia Group as its sole agent/partner in Nigeria and some of its agents in Italy.

He said: “The award of compensation/damages to the tune of USD1,500,000.00 (one million five hundred thousand dollars) made in favour of the respondent (Energy Equipment and Services) is justified.

“In the result, the Appellant’s (Valvitalia Group) appeal lacks merit and the 1st Appellant’s appeal is hereby dismissed, issues 2, 3 and 4 having been resolved against the 1st Appellant only. The findings of the lower court against the 2nd and 3rd Appellants (only) are set aside having resolved issue 1 in 2nd and 3rd Appellants’ favour.

“Consequently, the judgement of the lower court (Coram Hon Justice V.S. Gaba) delivered on 15th January 2020 is hereby affirmed against the 1st Appellant – Valvitalia Group SPA. The 1st appellant shall pay a cost of N150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand naira) to the respondent.”

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