Commercial Law

Court refuses Lagos bid for Injunction Against Cinema Tax Judgment

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has refused the application by the Lagos State Government for injunction pending appeal against the implementation of the judgment barring the Lagos State Video Censors Board from collecting annual registration and licencing fees from cinemas.

The Plaintiff, Harris & Annis Limited, operators of Dews Cinema, had in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1502/2016, Harris & Annis Limited v. Attorney General of Lagos State & 3 Ors., through its lawyer, C. O. P. Emeka of Auxano Law, challenged the power of Lagos State to register and licence cinema centres under the Cinematograph Law of Lagos State. In its judgment delivered on 18th March, 2020, Hon. Justice (Prof.) Austin Obiozor held that the legislative power of Lagos State over the subject-matter is in abeyance since the National Assembly has already made law on the same subject.

However, by a Notice of Appeal dated 14th May 2020, the Attorney General of Lagos State and the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board appealed the judgment in the Court of Appeal. They also filed an application for Injunction pending appeal also dated 14th May, 2020 to restrain the enforcement and implementation of the judgment.

At the hearing of the application on Monday, Mr. Olamide Ibrahim of Lagos State Ministry of Justice, representing the Appellants/Applicants, urged the Court to restrain the Plaintiff from giving effect to the judgment until the determination of the appeal. He argued that the Lagos State would suffer loss of revenue from cinemas if the judgment is allowed to be enforced.

However, Mr. Emmanuel-Kant Ekeocha of Auxano Law, who represented the Plaintiff pointed out that the Plaintiff would be prejudiced as it would be paying annual fees to both the National Film and Video Censors Board and the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board contrary to the terms of the subsisting Judgment, until whenever the appeal is determined.

Ruling on the application, Hon. Justice Obiozor held that the application was in effect seeking to restore the status quo ante bellum between parties to enable the applicants to continue to collect fees from cinema operators contrary to the judgment of Court. It was therefore held that the application lacks merit and it was accordingly dismissed.

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