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CRITERIA AND PROCESSES FOR REGISTRATION OF A FOREIGN JUDGEMENT

Dictum

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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COURT MAY EXAMINE DECISIONS OF SIMILAR JURISDICTION

Where there is no established precedent in this jurisdiction, the Court may examine the decisions of Courts in other similar jurisdictions for guidance. It is conceded that they are of persuasive authority only. In the Indian and English authorities cited by learned counsel for the applicants, I am persuaded that having regard to the fact that the decision of the lower Court affects the pecuniary interest of the applicants in the estate of the deceased and they are not seeking to pursue the appeal against the conviction and sentence of the deceased, the justice of the case requires that they be permitted to challenge the decision on Ground 9 only.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun JSC. Abdullahi v. Nigerian Army (SC.433/2010(R), 25 MAY 2018)

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REGISTERING COURT DOES NOT SIT AS APPELLATE COURT OVER FOREIGN JUDGEMENT

I will also add that it is not the duty of the court entertaining an 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 the requirements were met in this case.

— S.A. Akintan, JSC. Witt Ltd. v Dale Power (2007) – SC.240/2000

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BOTH THE 1958 ACT AND THE 1990 ACT APPLIES TO FOREIGN JUDGEMENT

The two main statutes are the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgment Act 1922 Cap 175 Laws of the Federation and Lagos 1958 and the Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Cap 152 Laws of the Federation 1990 Act Cap F35 of the Revised Laws of the Federation 2004. The 1958 ordinance was promulgated to facilitate the reciprocal enforcement of Judgments obtained in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom and other territories under her majesty’s protection not having been repealed by the 1990 Act, the Act still applies to the United Kingdom and other part of her majesty’s dominion. See Macaulay v. R.Z.B Austria (2003) 18 NWLR (Pt. 852) SC 282.

— R.O. Nwodo, JCA. Teleglobe v 21st Century Tech. (2008) – CA/L/694/2006

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EXECUTION BY REGISTERING COURT AND ORIGINAL COURT

When a judgment has been pronounced and no appeal is brought by the parties, the execution of the judgment normally follows. All types of application may follow and these usually include stay of execution, instalmental payment, variation etc. It seems to me that applications, other than those directed specifically at obtaining satisfaction of the judgment are properly brought before the court which originally gave the judgment even in cases where the judgment has been registered in a Foreign Court. On the other hand, application arising out of execution of writs taken out in the registering court ought to be heard by the registering court. This is without prejudice to the power of the court which originally gave the judgment to enforce by execution its judgment even when the judgment has been registered in a foreign court. The way it works is that either court must satisfy itself that the execution power is not being exercised simultaneously in this exercise of the concurrent jurisdiction in the original and the registering court.

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

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REGISTRATION OF FOREIGN JUDGEMENT DOES NOT DEPRIVE THE ORIGINAL COURT OF JURISDICTION

I agree that the registration of a judgment in a foreign Court for purposes of execution does not rob the original court of its jurisdiction over the matter and the execution of its judgment. For, the judgment-creditor could be enforcing the judgment in both jurisdictions wherever he can find the debtor’s property. But the matter in issue herein, which in my view had been decided by the registering court in England which had jurisdiction so to do, and the Arbitrator duly appointed by consent of parties in accordance with the “compromise” order of the registering court, ought not be relitigated in the original court in Nigeria. I should think that doing so tantamount to either asking the Nigerian Court to sit on appeal over the decision of another Court which had already exercised coordinate jurisdiction available to either Court, or setting aside the award of the Arbitrator which the Respondent had not challenged in accordance with the known principles governing arbitral proceedings.

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

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THE 1958 RECIPROCAL ACT APPLIES SINCE THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE IS YET TO MAKE AN ORDER UNDER THE 1990 ACT

Taking into consideration that Part I of the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act, CAP 152 of the Laws of the Federation, 1990, comprising Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, is to come into force only at the instance of the Minister of Justice by an order issued by him as specified in Section 3 of the Act, and in the absence of this order directing the application of Part I of the Act to the chosen countries specified in the order, the provisions of the earlier 1958 Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act CAP 175, remains applicable to the registration of foreign Judgments in Nigeria, particularly Judgments of the United Kingdom, one of which is the subject of this appeal. In other words Section 6 of the 1990, Act which was relied upon by the parties at the Courts below and interpreted and applied by the Court of Appeal below in its Judgment, is yet to come into force in the absence of the Order to bring it into force together with the other Sections in Part I of the Act by the Hon. Minister of Justice. This situation makes it necessary to fall back to the 1958 Ordinance to determine whether or not the Foreign Judgment of the Appellant was registrable under that Act.

— M. Mohammed, JSC. Grosvenor v Halaloui (2009) – SC.373/2002

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