High Court Kicks Out Law Suit Against High DSTV Tariffs


A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday dismissed the suit filed by some disaffected subscribers challenging the recent 20 per cent increase in subscription rates of MultiChoice’s DStv platform.

Osasuyi Adebayo and Oluyinka Oyeniji, who are both subscribers of DSTV and also lawyers, had filed the class action suit on behalf of themselves and other DStv subscribers in the country.

The plaintiffs had sought an order of the court restraining MultiChoice from effecting the new rates, which began on April 1, 2015.

The judge rejected the plaintiff’s argument that MultiChoice  did not deserve to be given right of audience, having failed to abide by an earlier ex parte order of the court restraining the company from implementing the rates.

Justice Aneke said the court was bound to entertain arguments from all parties before it, notwithstanding the alleged violation of the court order.

The court also ruled that the suit disclosed no reasonable cause of action, given that the plaintiffs were not obliged to remain MultiChoice subscribers on account of the hike in subscription rates.

Justice Aneke also upheld MultiChoice’s argument that the suit failed to comply with mandatory provisions of Sections 97 and 98 of the Sherrifs and Civil Processes Act, which stipulate that a writ to be served outside jurisdiction must be concurrently issued.

Earlier in the proceedings, the judge had rejected attempt by human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, to opt out of the suit.

Mr. Adegboruwa had filed an application to be joined as a co-plaintiff, but later sought to opt out.

Justice Aneke said he was persuaded by a Supreme Court decision, which stated that once an objection is raised challenging jurisdiction, the court was duty-bound to first determine the objection before entertaining any other application.
According to the suit, the plaintiffs had sought an order of the court compelling the NBC to regulate the activities of MultiChoice so as to prevent what they described as arbitrary increase in subscription rates.

They specifically urged the court to impress it on NBC to be alive to its statutory responsibility by ensuring that MultiChoice is compelled to implement the pay-per-view scheme in Nigeria, whereby subscribers would only pay for programmes they watched, as was being done in other parts of the world where MultiChoice operates.

But MultiChoice, through its lawyer, Moyosore Onigbanjo, argued that the plaintiffs had no cause of action, as a court did not have the power to regulate the price of services that a business was offering to its customers.

The company further contended that neither the government nor the court could regulate prices in Nigeria, being a country that operates a free market economy.


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