It was, I think, some few weeks ago when Julius Agwu shared, publicly, his extreme frustration at the negligence, invasion of privacy and interference with his business relationships by telecommunications giant Etisalat; as a result of the grossly below par services they rendered to him while he was in the States.
Clearly very bothered by the injury (financial and emotional) he suffered, he has now done something about.
Ending of last month, he had his lawyers send a demand letter to Etisalat threatening a lawsuit. Etisalat has answered denying the allegations, promising further investigations and essentially promising continued efficient and good customer services.
Clearly, they need to save face given Agwu’s prominence and influence. I do think, however, there might be a real possibility of all parties resolving this issue in settlement negotiations short of litigation i.e. trial. But, let’s watch closely and see.
As a reminder, a demand letter is typically the first step a Plaintiff’s attorney takes to see if the issue can be resolved before filing a lawsuit. There are varying degrees of demand letters. I tend to write my demand letters with substantiation of current case law and applicable statutes, current jury verdicts i.e. what are the actual verdicts on similar cases. If it favors my client, probability is that the other side will be more apt to want to truly work something out.
AML lawyers, especially the newbies who reach out often, if you receive a demand letter threatening a suit against your client, the first thing you should probably do is pick up the phone and have an informal conversation with opposing counsel. This step is now routinely ignored but when done, it does go a long way. It is a show of respect to opposing counsel, it also helps you gain rapport and see how the problem can be resolved through negotiations, something that would be very beneficial to your client. If that fails, then you may begin using all of your strategic tools available to you to vigorously defend your client’s interest.
Read the demand letter from Agwu’s lawyers below:
We are solicitors to Mr. Julius Agwu, one of Nigeria’s most sought after entertainers (hereinafter referred to as “our client”) and on whose behalf we write.
Our client is the owner of the Etisalat GSM phone number 08189555555, which he uses as his business line. On the 8th of October, 2013, our client travelled out of the country and returned on the 17th of the same month. Upon his return, he tried severally to make calls from the aforestated GSM line but same could not connect. Not only could he not make calls, he also could not receive calls on the said GSM line. This continued for some days until he got a message that his line had been blocked by the network provider.
Sequel to the above message, our client promptly visited your Abuja office at Hilton to report the matter. He was attended to by one Miss Joan, who informed him that somebody swapped his line. After our client successfully answered the security questions put to him, he was informed that his line had been restored, but the credit balance on the line was not returned.
Surprisingly, our client’s aforestated line was blocked again after he left your said Abuja office. Once again our client visited your office at the local wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Ikeja, Lagos to lodge a complaint, but painfully, nothing was done about it.
However, after sometime, our client was invited for a meeting at your head office in Lagos on the 14th of November, 2013 which he duly honoured. Present at the meeting (in addition to the officials of your organization) was Mr. Mobolaji Okusaga, the Managing Director of The Quadrant Company, in his capacity as media agents/managers for Etisalat Nigeria.
At the end of the meeting, our client was told for the umpteenth time that they would get back to him, which they again failed to do.
LOSS OF BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
It cannot be over emphasized that your actions of unlawfully blocking and/or swapping our client’s line occasioned loss of business opportunities to him. As you are aware, our client as one of the most sought after Nigerian entertainers needs his phone line to be easily accessible to keep his business going. It therefore goes without saying that our client has lost some business opportunities as a result of your actions.
TAKE NOTICE that we have our client’s firm instruction to demand and hereby demand the sum of N100,000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) as compensation for the loss of business opportunities and the inconvenience caused our client by reason of your unlawful and unjustified blocking and/or swapping of our client’s Etisalat GSM phone line.
TAKE FURTHER NOTICE that in the event that you fail, refuse or neglect to accede to our above stated demand within seven (7) days from the receipt of this letter, we shall be compelled to set in motion against you, all legal machineries necessary to obtain legal remedy for our client.
FESTUS KEYAMO, ESQ.
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