The High Court refused to grant an interim injunction to Digicel Fiji in the last hour as the former sponsor of Fiji Rugby tried to use legal means to stop the sponsorship agreement from going ahead.
While making the application before High Court Judge Justice Kamal Kumar, Digicel’s lawyer Mary Muir asked that the Fiji 7s team take the field in plain jerseys as the matter is before the court and Digicel has heard that the team will be running out in Vodafone jerseys in the NZ 7s which kicks off tomorrow.
Justice Kumar then said that the sponsorship contract has been signed and how can he unsign it. Muir said that Digicel had matched Vodafone’s sponsorship offer in January and the Fiji Rugby Union is obliged to give the sponsorship to Digicel. Muir said that this is not a completely commercial contract.
She also said that FRU signed the sponsorship agreement on the 3rd of February which confirmed that they did it in the face of the court proceedings. She said it is a public relations matter and it is not about the cash for Digicel when it sponsors Fiji rugby. Justice Kumar then questioned Muir why Digicel wants to sponsor the team if it is getting nothing out of it. He stressed in court to Muir that she should not say that there is no benefit. He asked her whether it is more phone sales for the company.
Muir said Digicel provides phones to the FRU. Justice Kumar then said that he was told that Shop N Save Supermarket’s sales doubled after they sponsored the Lautoka soccer team so he said that he knows that there are benefits to a company if it sponsors a team. Muir said her client wants the sponsorship enforced and it is a clear breach of contract by the FRU. She said that there should be no announcements and no press conferences about the sponsorship until the matter is fully addressed in court. Muir said Digicel had matched the $40 million offer and should be given the contract.
FRU lawyer Nilesh Lajendra said that the sponsorship contract has been signed and it cannot be unsigned. Muir again argued that the FRU has gone ahead and signed the agreement knowing that there is a legal challenge. She said that the FRU should not be allowed to profit by their own wrongdoing. Muir said they want the court to freeze the contract and for the players to wear plain jerseys in this weekend’s tournament. Justice Kumar then asked what would he do about Vodafone’s rights as the contract has been signed. He refused to grant the interim injunction however he allowed Digicel to file an amended application.This will be heard next Thursday.