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COURT CAN SET ASIDE THE REGISTRATION OF A FOREIGN JUDGEMENT

Dictum

In any case, the authority, power or jurisdiction to set aside the registration of a foreign judgment as seen above is provided by statute and the courts have recognised that position in a number of decisions. See Hyppolite v. Egharevba (1998) 11 NWLR (Pt. 575) 598 at 614 and 617, Berliet (Nig.) v. Kachalla (1995) 9 NWLR (Pt.420) 478, Dale Power System v. Witt and Busch (2001) 8 NWLR (Pt.716) 699 at 708 and Halaoui v. Grosvenor Ltd. (2002) 17 NWLR (Pt.795) 28 at 42-3.

— Garba, JCA. Shona-Jason v Omega Air (2005) – CA/L/418/2000

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FOREIGN DECISIONS ARE ONLY OF PERSUASIVE VALUE

In Olafisoye v. FRN (2004) 4 NWLR (Pt. 864) 580, Niki Tobi JSC (God bless his soul) had emphatically held inter alia thus: Decisions of Foreign Countries are merely of persuasive authority. This Court will certainly allow itself to be persuaded in appropriate cases but this Court will not stray away from its course of interpreting the Nigerian Constitution by resorting to foreign decisions which were decided strictly in the context of their Constitution and which are not similar to ours. See also Okon v. The State (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt. 69) 172 @ p. 180, where Nnemeka-Agu, JSC had stated inter alia thus: ”It is well to remember not only that a foreign decision should at best be of persuasive authority in a Nigerian Court but also that before it can even qualify as such, the legislation, substantive or adjectival, upon which it was based must be in pari materia with our own. It is dangerous to follow a foreign decision simply because its wording approximates to our own. Nigerian Courts are obliged to give Nigerian Legislation its natural and ordinary meaning, taking into account our own sociological circumstances as well as other factors which form the background of our Local Legislation in question. A Copy-Cat transportation of an English decision may in some circumstance turn out to be inimical to justice in our own Courts. See also Adetoun Oladeji (Nig) Ltd v. Nigerian Breweries PLC (2007) LPELR 160 (SC) Dada v. The State (1977) NCLR 135; Eliochin Nig. Ltd. v. Mbadiwe (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 14) 47; Nigerian National Supply Co. Ltd v. Alhaji Hamajode Sabana Co. Ltd (No 3) (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 74) 23: Senator Adesanya v. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981) 5 SC 112; Yahaya v. State (2002) 3 NWLR (Pt. 754) 289.

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JUDGEMENT NOT ENFORCEABLE IN ORIGINAL COURT WILL NOT BE ENFORCEABLE IN REGISTERING COURT

The reasoning behind the conditions laid down for refusal is very obvious. In other words where a judgment has been satisfied, the interest of the judgment creditor had been served and therefore any further registration of same would serve no beneficial purpose but a mere waste of time. There would be nothing more to pursue. Further more and on the second reason warranting refusal, it is a matter of common knowledge that any judgment which by its nature cannot be enforced by exemption in the country of the original court would certainly and invariably encourter the same situational characteristics wheresoever else. Basically the general fundamentals relating to the purpose, determination application and effectual reasonings of any legal system are principally based on the same pedestal connotation. Any judgment which could not be executed is as good as none at all.

— C.B. Ogunbiyi, JCA. Teleglobe v 21st Century Tech. (2008) – CA/L/694/2006

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FOREIGN JUDGEMENTS CAN ONLY BE REGISTERED WITHIN 12 MONTHS IF NO EXTENSION OF PART 1 OF THE 1990 ACT

This court in the case of Macaulay v. R. Z. B. Austria (2003) 18 NWLR (Pt.852) 282 at pp. 298H -299 A – B, per Kalgo, JSC observed as follows: “By this provision, irrespective, regardless or inspite of any other provision in the 1990 Act, any judgment of a foreign country including United Kingdom to which part 1 of that Act was not extended, can only be registered within twelve months from the date of the judgment or any longer period allowed by the court registering the judgment since the provisions of Part 1 of the said Act had not been extended to it. Section 4 of the 1990 Act which speaks of registering a judgment within 6 years after the date of judgment only applies to the countries where Part 1 of the said Act was extended, that is to say, when the Minister made an order under the 1990 Act; and in this case it was not.”

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ORIGINAL COURT WHICH GAVE JUDGEMENT DOES NOT LOSE JURISDICTION IN RELATION TO THE EXECUTION PROCESS

I am in agreement with the learned counsel for the respondent, that the original court which gave judgment does not lose its jurisdiction in relation to the execution process in the case just because the judgment has been registered in a foreign country. But, once it is recognised that a registering court has the same power with respect to execution as the original court, it becomes important to monitor closely what the registering court is doing in relation to the execution of a particular registered judgment in order to ensure that there is no conflict in the exercise of powers as to execution between the registering court and the court which originally gave the judgment.

— Oguntade, JCA. Adwork Ltd. v Nigeria Airways Ltd. (1999) – CA/L/156/99

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CRITERIA AND PROCESSES FOR REGISTRATION OF A FOREIGN JUDGEMENT

In the instant case, the relevant legislative provisions, and these have been reproduced supra, are made up of words which are clear and unambiguous in their meanings. Their ordinary literal meaning must accordingly be ascribed to them. Resultantly the combined effect of these provisions are:- (1) Foreign judgments are, on application and a court order thereon, registrable in this country. (2) Application for an order for leave to register such judgments can be made either ex parte or on notice. (3) An application on notice for the registration of a foreign judgment can be made, by the necessary implication deducible from S. 3(4), more than once.
Judgments that must not be registered pursuant to applications in that behalf and if registered their registrations are liable to being set aside, on application by the judgment debtor include:- (a) Judgment given by a court without jurisdiction. (b) Judgment against a judgment/debtor who did not carryon business or resided within the jurisdiction of or voluntarily appeared or submitted or agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the court that gave the judgment. (c) Judgment against a defendant who although ordinarily resident or was carrying on business or agreed to submit to the jurisdiction of the court that gave the judgment was not duly served with the processes of the court and did not attend trial. (d) Judgment that was fraudulently obtained. (e) An appeal subsist against the judgment or that being entitled to, the judgment/ debtor intends to appeal. (f) If the cause of action on the basis of which the judgment was given could not have been heard by the registering court for reasons of public policy or such other related reasons. (g) it is neither just nor convenient that the judgment be enforced in Nigeria and; (h) for any other sufficient reasons. The discretion of the Judge are frighteningly wide indeed.

– M.D. Muhammad, J.C.A. Shona-Jason v Omega Air (2005) – CA/L/418/2000

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REGISTERING COURT CANNOT SIT AS APPELLATE COURT OVER JUDGEMENT SOUGHT TO BE REGISTERED

The law is that it is not the duty of the registering Court to sit on appeal over the decision of the original Court that delivered the Judgment sought to be registered. My view above is fortified by the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of:- – Witt & Busch Ltd. v. Dale Power Systems Plc (2007) 17 NWLR part 1062 Page 1 at 23 – 24 Paragraphs G – A; where it was held as follows:- “I entirely agree with the statement of the laws as declared in the lead judgment particularly on the point that section 3 (1) of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgment Ordinance was applicable to the case. I will also add that it is not the duty of the Court entertaining application for the registration of a foreign judgment to sit as an appellate Court over the foreign judgment. The Respondent to the judgment sought to be registered is expected to have exercised its right of appeal under the laws of the foreign country. All that the Court to which the application is made needs to do is to ensure that the Appellant complies with the requirements of our laws on registration of foreign judgment. I believe that requirement has been met.”

— J.O. Bada, JCA. Conoil v Vitol (2011) – CA/A/213/2010

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