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Back to regular programming.
What a very busy day today was for me handling litigation work. I wrapped up my day and was checking my emails, which have remained unchecked all day, and what do I see, the press releases below and correspondences from Nduka Obaigbena’s camp, owner of Arise Magazine and Leaders and Company Limited.
If you are just joining us, Jan Malan, a top fashion producer in Africa, produced a show for Nduka in 2010 at New York Fashion Week. Jan Malan claims he is owed $300,000 and forwarded an exclusive press release to me seeking media coverage. Upon receipt, I granted both Malan and Nduka a courtesy opportunity to respond with statements and press releases with a specified deadline. Nduka failed to meet the courtesy deadline. I published Malan’s release here. Nduka has now responded with his press release statements below.
A few comments on Nduka’s release and I’ll let you all read it below.
First, I have removed all reference of Jan Malan’s phone numbers because that should remain private as I am unsure it is a number meant for the public.
Second, Nduka, I have major issue with this statement in your correspondence below and suggest you never use it again should you ever be involved in litigation, “No self respecting media will publish your libel as they will be sued if they do.”
Come again, did you just say you will sue the media for publishing Jan Malan’s press release? Why? Because the media states it is Malan’s press release and he has filed a legal dispute against you and your company and his rational for doing so? Come off it, will you?! The media, at least USA Media, unequivocally, has the freedom of the press. Further, any attempts to sue the press must pass several high legal thresholds which, based on these facts and your celebrity status, among other things, you would have a great time overcoming such legal hurdles.
In addition, Africamusiclaw.com, TMZ, Hollywood Reporter, Celebrity Justice and the list goes on, are examples of USA owned publications/blogs who focus strictly on celebrity lawsuits and allegations made by litigants in a lawsuit. Often times, even actual complaints filed in the cases are uploaded and made available to the public. So do quit with threats that do not and cannot hold legal water. Finally, if you will threaten to sue media, be careful about throwing such threats towards legal media/legal press. There is a high probability those behind legal media or legal blogs are lawyers and worse, trial lawyers. The natural habitat of a trial lawyer is the courtroom. It is like fish and water, they go together. To say you will take such groups of people already prone to litigation to court doesn’t even get a raised eyebrow.
Fight Jan Malan directly. Leave the press, especially legal press, out of this. We didn’t create the mess so don’t bring it to our doorsteps.
I’m done with that.
Now onto the legalese. As I’ve said, this is an industry focused blog so I like to talk straight to people even though I do not know these individuals. I pretend they are sitting and standing in front of me and I talk to them the way I would if I met them, regardless of their influence, money or what have you. People often ask if I am as direct offline as I am online. If you have met me in person, you already know the answer to this. This is one situation that calls for directness, nothing else.
The Art of Negotiation
Let’s get pragmatic here, shall we. Lawsuits cost money. It is what it is. At a minimal, $100,000 can be spent fighting a suit of this caliber. The cost increases as high as $500,000, if not more, depending on the facts, and there is no guarantee for a win. Further, law suits are aggravating and stressful for the parties involved. Even more aggravating when a lawsuit is filed, is when the press lurks around for legal blood to report. Given my exclusive publication of this story on my credible (“self respecting”) portal, I expect both my American and non-American media/blogger colleagues might pick up the news. This further publicizes this case.
But, truth be told, this lawsuit on both ends, is a waste of time and space. Malan, if in fact money is an issue, you will feel the money pinch plus the bad press publicity with this current lawsuit. Nduka, while you may not feel the pinch, monetarily, you will feel the pinch publicity wise, plus these news media stories are archived, indefinitely, online.
You two need to move to the center to resolve this case. Malan, there is a high probability you will not get $300,000 you asked for. You already filed the lawsuit so at this point, you need to move your position and come to the center. Nduka, probability is, $150,000 is simply not going to cut it for settlement purposes and to in, good faith, meet Malan halfway. It is irrelevant who did what or who is right or wrong. The option is a drawn out legal battle and bad publicity or you move to the center and resolve this dispute, quickly. Accordingly, Nduka, you also need to move to the center. Malan come down on your numbers. Nduka, up your numbers game. You two should have your lawyers handle this. Upon wrapping this mess up, send a joint press release to the public after you have resolved this ridiculous lawsuit, and let’s get on with the business of fashion, shall we?
Just my opinion. Take it or leave it.
Sent: 28 September 2011 15:51
To: ([email protected]) **I have added paranthesis around my email to protect from spam!
Cc: Nduka Obaigbena
Subject: A STATEMENT from the Office of Nduka Obaigbena
From the office of Nduka Obaigbena.
Your publication of the PRESS STATEMENT of JAN MALAN refers:
1. The allegations of a completely libellous nature continue to be made against ARISE Magazine and Nduka Obaigbena by South African based Jan Malan of Umzengeli Productions which has found its way onto your website;
2. It is now alleged, falsely and maliciously, that we owe Mr Malan $300,000 for fashion shows he helped to produce in New York and Paris in 2010. He had previously said we owed $400,000 and $600,000 respectively in his moving imagination: the reality is that we have already paid Mr Malan a total of over $2,500,000 for these shows;
3. He is now attempting to extract, by attempted blackmail, an arbitrary sum plucked from the air – an afterthought, an additional $300,000. In his first letter of blackmail asking us to pay or he will use the press against us, he claimed $400,000! Earlier he had claimed $600,000!!
4. The fact is that we have NOT dishonoured any financial commitment. Rather, we have seriously challenged him over inflated invoices (fraudulent mark-up of third party invoices) and overpayment charges. We have in fact challenged him several times to provide PROOF, but no proof has been produced;
5. It is a fact that in March 2011, this year, Malan approached Nduka Obaigbena in Lagos to ask if he could help stage our latest NY show. We declined. This was after he was invited to produce Black Coffee and Ashes, as our finale in Lagos.
6. Rather than discuss these commercial issues sensibly round a table, Mr Malan has resorted to libel and attempted blackmail to get his way through the press. which most have stayed away from;
7. Mr Malan has also disseminated his untrue and damaging allegations in certain public quarters in the hope that we would capitulate. But his game has gone far enough and we have now instructed our legal team to launch a libel action in addition to suing him in his South African Courts.
8. How is it that after we paid Jan Malan over $2,500,000 (two million five hundred thousand US Dollars), would $300,000 be an issue? The truth is WE are the victims of fraud and over-invoicing!
Office of Nduka Obaigbena
Leaders & Company Ltd.,
35 Creek Rd,
PLEASE FIND BELOW THE RESPONSE OF NDUKA OBAIGBENA TO JAN MALAN ON 08 SEPTEMBER, 2011 WHEN HE THREATENED TO GO TO THE PRESS UNLESS HE IS PAID $400,000 WITHIN 24 HOURS…. CURIOUSLY HE NOW CLAIMS $300,000.
On 08 Sep 2011, at 12:49 PM, Nduka Obaigbena wrote:
There you go again.
First we reject in totality, and deny in its entirety the false claims you are making in your proposed press statement being made, at this time, with the sole purpose of distracting from the ARISE MAGAZINE MADE-IN-AFRICA show at the NYFW next week. You will recall you indicated interest in producing this show when we met in Lagos. The fact the we chose to go with another producer, at this time in no justification for your libelous outburst!
You have produced 2 shows for us in the NYFW (out of over 20 shows we have staged worldwide) for which you were paid 100%! Why then are you having a problem with final payments for the third show?? Because you are trying to obtain funds from us under false pretenses! Instead of facing up to the issues you resort to blackmail and subterfuge. You went to court; instead of awaiting justice in the judicial process you instituted, you are seeking extra judicial press releases. No self respecting media will publish your libel as they will be sued if they do. We are ready to meet you in court and defend the case, which is a purely commercial dispute, robustly. But if also you want an amicable end to this we are ready. I called and emailed you a few times over the last month to tell you the facts, after our full recon and payments to 3rd party suppliers that your financial claims of $400,000 USD are without foundation, you failed, refused or neglected to return my calls and email. At best what we owe you is not above $150,000. If you want to end this along these lines, then return my calls or we’d be glad to meet you in the temple of justice. Seeking unjustified press attention will not work. Lies have short legs; they do not run far. If you defame us or cause libel to be published about us, we will meet you in court.
With kind regards,
From: Jan Malan [[email protected]]
Sent: 08 September 2011 08:26
To: obaigbena nduka; Nduka Obaigbena
Cc: Getty Gizaw; Craig Assheton-Smith; Lucas Van Tonder; Greg Meyer
Subject: STATEMENT BY JAN MALAN REGARDING ARISE MAGAZINE TO THE MEDIA
I have been very patient with you, my patience has now run out and I have decided to take all action available to me.
Attached herewith please find a statement that I intend releasing to the media today.
If you can affect payment and proof thereof before close of business today, I will not send it out.
(Phone number removed by Africamusiclaw.com)
-Photocredit: Dan Kitwodd/Getty Images
-Photodescription: Nduka Obaigbena and Collin Powell