Court Throws Out MTN

An Accra Circuit Court yesterday struck out an application seeking to challenge its jurisdiction to hear the case brought against Scancom Ghana Limited, operators of MTN by the National Lottery Authority (NLA) in relation to the ‘MTN Go Rio’ promotion.

The ruling followed an extensive legal tussle last week between the two lawyers, David Lamptey, Counsel for the plaintiffs (NLA) and Samuel Cudjoe, lead counsel for the defendants over whether or not the court had the jurisdiction to hear the case.

Mr Cudjoe had argued that the hands of the court were tied so far as an application for prohibition had been brought against it at the High Court.

He said once the issue of jurisdiction had been raised, the court would have to wait for the ruling on the matter by the High Court.

Mr Lamptey, on the other hand, said that the court could still hear the case despite the application brought against it by the defendants.

Quoting sections 42 (1) (a) (i) of the Courts Act and Article 11 of the 1992 Constitution, he said the Constitution mandates the court to continue with the hearing.

However, the trial judge, Francis Obiri said the objection raised by the counsel for the defendants was premature, adding that ‘I therefore did not see the need for counsel for the defendants to raise this.’

According to Mr Obiri, the court had not formally been served with any notice of prohibition by the High Court and accordingly fixed Monday, May 19 for the continuation of the case.

The court in April this year granted the National Lottery Authority (NLA) an interim injunction restraining MTN Ghana from continuing with its promotion.

The ‘MTN Go Rio’ promotion had been designed by the telecommunication giant to reward customers for four months from the date of launch with prizes including Kia Rio saloon cars, an-all-expense paid trip to Brazil, 32-inch Samsung LED TVs, Samsung Galaxy tabs, phones and free airtime.

The NLA had moved an ex-parte application in the court to stop MTN from holding the promotion.

NLA was seeking a declaration that the promotion is not a consumer or marketing promotion but in fact a lottery as defined by the Courts of Ghana and prohibited by section 4(1) of the National Lotto Act, 2006 (ACT 772).

The NLA also wanted a declaration that the promotion ‘has all the attributes and elements of a lottery under the laws of the Republic of Ghana, being the existence of a prize to be won through draw or chance after spending a little more on voice, data, and SMS than usual as a precondition for obtaining the opportunity to stand the chance to win a fantastic prize.’

The Authority prayed the court for ‘a perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, its agents, assigns, privies, and workmen from sponsoring, promoting, conducting and/or advertising the promotion.’

By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson

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