March 09, 2007/BusinessDay
The court action instituted against Cadbury Nigeria plc by its share holders will set a trend that will advance capital market development.
This is the consensus as reactions trail the suit filed by a stock broking firm and some 341 shareholders of Cadbury against board and management on allegations of financial misfeasance and falsification of figures in the December 31, 2005 annual reports and accounts of the company.
Those who spoke to BusinessDay commended the move saying it is a good development that would create precedence for the capital market.
Julianne Esuene, a member of the Capital Market Solicitors Association, said \"this is a landmark case, however you look at it. The decision of the court in this matter will trigger new thinking in investor/company relationship. This is more so when you consider the fact that we have never had such matter in our courts before. So there is a major challenge confronting all the parties including the court, the plaintiffs, and the defendants, as each will try to establish its case on a virgin legal platform.
As solicitors with specialisation in the capital market, we eagerly await the outcome.\"
According to Osita Emelieonwu, it is high time corporate leaders knew the extent of their responsibility or liability to all the stakeholders in a company. \"They also have to know what confronts them in the case of corporate failure or such misconduct that impacts on the interest of investors.\"
He felt unhappy that nothing has been done to some of the managing directors or board members of banks could not scale the consolidation exercise on reasons executive mismanagement. \"We hope that this case will open our eyes to what the expectation on executive management should be.\"
Bernard Okwor, an Enugu based lawyer said this is an interesting development and those of us who hold some stakes in the capital market would love to see the outcome.
It is a practical demonstration of the level of expectation that shareholders and investors have on the corporate leadership. It is not just a verbal expression of corporate governance but we have to see it work.\"
A capital market lawyer who spoke on grounds of anonymity said \"this matter will set the precedence on which future and similar matters would be settled. I tell you that this is a major fall out of the rapid growth of the capital market which we have been witnessing and it is good for the market, it is good for the investing public. In the English Law, the matter is covered under the misfeasance law; and we do not have that yet in the country. Lets us hope it will alert the authorities on such legislation.\"
According to a shareholder, \"our market is growing and the shareholders are becoming increasingly aware of their rights. And from now go forward we will continue to demand for these rights as it affects in the capital market.