Court Awards N10m Against Access Bank For Defamation

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Court Awards N10m Against Access Bank For Defamation

A high court sitting in Lagos has slammed 10 million Naira damaged against Access Bank Plc, for wrongfully publishing Ms Bukola Bakrin’s name on the Bank’s list of Delinquent Debtors.

The debtors list was published in Thisday Newspaper of 18 June 2019 which was authored by Access Bank contained the names of various companies and their Directors who were listed as delinquent debtors in line with Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive via circular No BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/08/022 of April 2015 requesting Banks to publish certain details of Debtor Companies including names of Directors and outstanding debts.

Following the publication, Bakrin who was neither a director of any of the listed companies nor a debtor of Access Bank or any other Bank, approached the court seeking the immediate retraction of the publication.

The suit which was filed by Mr. Damilola Amore, senior partner in the firm of Trumann Rockwood Solicitors also sought a public apology from the bank, an injunction restraining the bank from further publication of her name and damages for the injury to the Claimant’s reputation.

Justice K.A Jose, in delivering the judgment on 13th February, 2023 in Suit No LD/ADR/2913/2020 between Ms Bukola Bakrin vs Access Bank Plc, awarded N10,000,000 in damages against Access Bank Plc for the wrongful publication of the Claimant’s name on the Bank’s list of Delinquent Debtors.

The Court found that the Claimant’s name was not listed on the company’s CAC7 form tendered by the Claimant and as such the Claimant’s name ought not to have been included in the publication.

Commenting on the decision after the hearing in court, Mr. Aondona Tylomun noted that this decision will “serve as a cautionary tale to banks, digital money lenders and other financial institutions to exercise grave caution when disclosing customer’s information”.

Similarly, Mr. Timothy Mathew observed that while the subject matter of libel is not a novel one, the court’s decision has helped to resolve the vexed issue of what documents a party should place reliance on when conducting searches with regulatory bodies.