Lovells wins Appeal Court battle for Miss World over sponsorship booty

Lovells has walked away with a victory for the organisers of the Miss World pageant in a dispute over the sponsorship of a gala dinner.

The Court of Appeal last month dismissed an appeal against the beauty pageant organisers brought by a Nigerian businesswoman, Angela Onyeador.

Onyeador had put up money as a guarantee for a Nigerian company, Allianz Nigeria, so that it could sponsor a gala dinner held before the 2002 Miss World pageant. In return she was to receive a portion of the dinner’s profits.

In the High Court in June 2004, Judge Robert Reid QC found for Onyeador against Allianz to the sum of £238,317.55, but said Miss World was not liable to Onyeador.

However, because Allianz later became insolvent, Onyeador’s hopes of recovering any money rested on the success of her appeal. Miss World had arranged an additional $1m (£530,000) of sponsorship for the event from the government of the Rivers State of Nigeria. If the claim was to succeed, the court would have had to decide that sponsorship money counted as profit.

In its decision, the Court of Appeal held that the money from Rivers State did not count as profit, and furthermore that neither Onyeador nor Allianz had a claim to it. The court awarded Miss World costs.

Lovells partner John Trotter acted for Miss World, instructing Maitland Chambers’ Edmund Cullen. Mark Brassey, a litigation partner at Fladgate Fielder, acted for Onyeador, with 10 Old Square’s Rupert D’Cruz as counsel.