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Opinion poll firms in big fight over debt




Opinion poll firms in big fight over debt

Milimani Law Courts. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Research firm Ipsos Ltd has sued Kenya Audience Research Foundation Limited (KARF) over unpaid arrears running into millions of shillings for services rendered.

Papers filed in court paint a picture of Kenya Audience as an organisation under financial distress and struggling to meet its cash obligations.

Ipsos, which has been carrying out audience research for KARF since 2016, claims that the firm has failed to settle a Sh116.3 million bill and has allegedly instead terminated the contract to escape liability.

KARF, which has been selling this data to media houses and other local and international companies, denies this allegation and has filed a counter-claim.

“Pending the hearing and determination of this application inter partes, the respondent, … be restrained from demanding for and/or receiving all/and or any payment from the interested parties herein and/or any other company and/or person to whom the respondent has sold the research data sourced by the applicant,” reads one of the orders sought by Ipsos.

Ipsos has enjoined 61 companies that KARF sold the data to. It says it has information KARF is facing serious financial problems and that it is insolvent.

KARF is accused of terminating the contract between the two in August last year after it was served with a demand note.

The company also seeks a court order freezing KARF’s bank accounts or in the alternative all payment to be made by suppliers to KARF to be placed in court custody pending the determination of the suit.

Ipsos argues that KARF has no known assets and it is apprehensive that the firm may not be in a position to pay the outstanding claim. Further, KARF is accused of attempting to take over the research panel put together by Ipsos, and the firm wants orders restraining KARF from taking over or attempting to interfere with the panel pending a referral to arbitration. But KARF, in its response, disputes the claim and accuses Ipsos of dishonesty.

The firm says Ipsos failed to deliver the research data on schedule as agreed prompting some subscribers to choose alternative service providers.

It says this coupled with hard economic times it faced in 2017 resulted in the firm experiencing financial distress. It says this financial situation was explained to Ipsos.

But KARF denies terminating the contract to escape obligations, arguing that it ended it legally after attempts to resolve the dispute failed. The firm further says it paid for the research panel recruited and trained by Ipsos, noting that the team and the data they have produced legally belongs to it, contrary to Ipsos’ claim.

The firm says that in February 2016 it entered into a tripartite deal with Ipsos and G-Tide Mobile, a Zimbabwean firm, for the supply of 3,000 mobile phones.

The company says it paid Sh36 million for these gadgets, which were to be used by researchers to gather data.

The company says that under the agreement, Ipsos was to ensure the safety of these gadgets.

But the firm says Ipsos failed to account for mobile phones worth Sh10.5 million as of the time the contract was terminated. KARF further claims that during 2016 and 2017, Ipsos overcharged it Sh44.7 million for services rendered, bringing the total counter-claim to Sh55.3 million.

KARF wants this debt to be offset against the claimed debt of Sh116 million.

Outside the court, KARF was recently criticised by media houses over unreliable and inaccurate TV and radio ratings released to corporates and media agencies.

In a joint statement, Nation Media Group, Radio Africa Group, Standard Group, Capital Group Ltd and Kenya Broadcasting Corporation called for the disbanding of the firm for failing to address long-running concerns and to put out credible research data.