The Federal High Court in Lagos has adjourned the case of Kiss Daniel and his record label G-Worldwide to the 16th of May, 2018.
The court ruled that the evidence submitted for the trial and main issue are not different from those earlier presented for the grant of the injunctions, and has hence ordered for an accelerated hearing and trial of the matter. It expects both parties and their witnesses to tender their evidence and testify on the new date.
The Background Story
The problem between Kiss Daniel’s and G-Worldwide may have started with the success of Woju , his first single which was later included on his debut album, New Era. According to sources, the singer demanded an update on his contract after it was evident that the song was an undeniable hit early in 2015. He is said to have approached the management for a revised contract to reflect his aquired status in the music industry.
Kiss Daniel, on joining the label in 2013, consented to a deal to have G-Worldwide release five of his albums in seven years, during which he was entitled to 30% of all the net profits from his performance fees. After negotiations, his contract was reviewed, with effect from the first quarter of 2015. The new deal meant that Kiss Daniel got 40% of all performance profits, as well as 30% of all non-performance income. It also reduced his expected number of albums from five to four. In 2016, the deal was further updated, increasing his non-performance benefits to 40% and maintaining the 40% performance benefits.
There were also allegations of the recording label stifling his career by restricting collaboration with other colleagues outside G-Worldwide. Since his first single, Kiss Daniel’s only collaboration excluding those with fellow G-Worldwide artiste, Sugarboy, was with Davido and Tiwa Savage on the remix of Woju.
Eventually, The singer requested to terminate the contract with G-Worldwide, citing disagreements over finances.
The statement from his lawyers:
“Our claim in our suit is basically for an Order of Mandatory Injunction compelling the Defendant and its directors to provide the Kiss Daniel or his representatives with unrestricted access to inspect the books and records of his record label in respect of all financial transactions made pursuant to the Record Contract Agreement between the two parties.
This claim is based on clause 7 of the Recording Contract between the parties, which imposes an obligation on the Label to wit:
“Company shall maintain proper accounting books and or records at its principal office, in relation to revenue generated, or expenditure expended in the course of the performance of this Agreement. Such books and or records shall include, but shall not be limited to, any documents or records which evidence the receipt and or disbursements of royalties and other monies generated in the course of the performance of the Agreement.
The Artist shall, at any time during the term of this Agreement and upon prior written notice to Company, Artist or his/her designated representative shall gain unrestricted access to inspect the books and records of the Company relating to this Agreement and shall be entitled to make copies thereof.”
This is why we feel it is not only legally wrong but a bit unethical for them to go behind us to apply for an ex-parte injunction when we are already before another judge on a similar matter and they have entered (an) appearance and filed their pleadings. There was also no urgency. We wrote to them to terminate the contract on the 30 of October 2017 and they attempted to procure an ex-parte injunction on 30 of November 2017. A month after. Meanwhile, the artist has been performing all over Nigeria to their knowledge in those 30 days. He has been posting his new activities online. Yet, they did not do anything until almost a month after.
We actually tried to discuss and resolve this issue with the label but they refused all our entreaties. Kiss Daniel’s main grouse was lack of accountability and transparency in the way they manage the revenue. Find below the sequence of event to enable you (to) understand our viewpoint.
Based on clause 7 above, we wrote to them on the 18 of July 2017 giving them notice of Kiss Daniels’s intention (through a chartered Accountant) to inspect/audit the books and records kept by them in respect of the revenue generated/expenses made including royalties payable.
“This is to inform you that in accordance with the Recording Contract between the parties, our client wishes to send his Accountants (WYZE Associates) to inspect/audit his accounts with your client.
Kindly confirm your convenient date from next week when the Accountants can come in for the inspection/audit.”
They failed/refused to respond to the above email and we had to send a reminder on the 24 of July and also called their solicitors. They finally responded on the 25 of July 2017 saying:
“I somehow missed your initial email. Apologies. I will discuss your request with my client and will revert with a response before CoB tomorrow.”
As usual, they failed to respond on the 26 of July 2017 as promised and we had to send another reminder by way of email and telephone call. It took them another one week before they responded on the 1 of August 2017 through their solicitor claiming that the audit cannot be done immediately because the G-Worldwide’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is about to get married and would also proceed on honeymoon immediately thereafter. This is what the lawyer sent to us:
“Regarding the date for the “audit”, can we agree on a date in late August or early September? An earlier date will not be ideal- Emperor Geezy is getting married on Saturday and will be unavailable for some time after the wedding (for obvious reasons).”
Of course, we were surprised by the above statement and could not fathom how and why the oncoming wedding of “Emperor Geezy”(CEO of the Record Label), who is not the accountant should affect the inspection of books of account or ground the life of our client to a halt. Based on the above, we responded as follows:
“It is our understanding that we are dealing with a company (G-World Entertainment Ltd) and not an individual. Therefore, the unavailability of Emperor Geezy would not affect the audit. Please note that the audit will only involve G World Accountants and our Accountants. Therefore, the presence of Emperor Geezy is not very important at this stage. In view of the above, we can schedule the audit to an earlier date. Kindly confirm when our Accountants can come for the audit within this week or next week.”
Unfortunately, they responded by creating a new excuse. This is what they sent to us the 4 of August 2017:
“While the company is happy to assist your client’s accountants with their audit request, unfortunately, due to ongoing activities involving the relevant company’s personnel, the time proposed by you will not be convenient for the company (whose assistance you require to carry out the audit).
In the circumstance, we suggest that we should agree on a day in the last week of August for the audit exercise. We will wait for you to propose a specific date during the said period for the audit.”
It was clear to us at this point that they did not want us to inspect the books and will do everything to frustrate this legitimate demand, which is expressly provided for by the Contract between the parties. Based on the above and in order to avoid further delays/arguments, we conceded to the time frame insisted by them and wrote them on the 7 of August 2017 informing them that we have agreed to the end of the month::
“Our accountants will be available on 28th and 29th August 2017 for the audit. Kindly confirm that the dates. Also, confirm your client’s address.”
Again, they failed/refused to confirm the dates for the inspection or the venue as requested and after waiting for almost 3 weeks we were forced once again to send another reminder for confirmation of date and venue. They deliberately failed to respond until the 28 of August 2017, which is one of the dates fixed for the inspection and agreed to the 29 of August 2017 for the said inspection/audit. Thereby giving the Claimant less than 24 hours’ notice.
Unfortunately, when the inspection/audit finally held, our Accountant was denied unrestricted access to the “books/records” in clear breach of the unambiguous provisions of the Contract between the parties. We were surprised that they did not come to the venue of the inspection/audit with any physical books, receipts, invoices e.t.c. but only brought a mere laptop! And even refused to allow our Accountant to make a copy of the said “books/records” contrary to our rights under the Contract. We also discovered that their representative who brought the laptop is not an accountant and did not know anything about the transactions recorded in the laptop he could not answer any of the questions/queries posted to him by our account.
In light of the above failure to allow us inspect and make copies of the books of account as provided in clause 7 of the Record contract between the parties amongst other breaches, we gave them 14 days’ notice to remedy the breach as provided by Clause 16 of the Contract and when they failed to do so within the 14 days, we proceeded to terminate the Contract as we were empowered to do under the contract.”
Soon after Kiss Daniel’s exit from the label, G-Worldwide also filed a case against the artiste, accusing him of:
“taking steps to appoint a new manager, solicit for bookings, and has continued to negotiate and enter performance agreements in respect of the songs from the album New Era, and Evolution which is set to be released soon containing singles such as Yeba, For You, Senorita, Sofa and others, produced under the contract, including using the stage name ‘Kiss Daniel’ without the company’s prior consent and permission.”
The order issued by the court and signed by Hon. Justice Babs Kuewumi, reads in part:
“It is hereby ordered as follows that in the interim both parties are ordered to maintain the status quo ante Bellum under the recording contract pending the hearing of the motion on notice.”
That case was adjourned until January 9, 2018. The Judge in charge of the case, Justice Babs Kuewumi is a specialist in contract disputes and was part of a 2013 case between singer, Brymo and music label Chocolate City.
The tussle between Kiss Daniel and G-Worldwide may continue until the court gives a final ruling on all the pending cases or both parties reach an out-of-court settlement.
Feature image photo credit: tooxclusive.com