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PREREQUISITES TO SET ASIDE FOREIGN JUDGEMENT WILL BE CONSIDERED WHEN FOREIGN JUDGEMENT IS TO BE REGISTERED

Dictum

The purpose from the subtitle is for cases in which registered Judgments must or may be set aside. There is no doubt that the application in the lower court is not for an Order to set aside but to register a Foreign Judgment. Notwithstanding, the requirements under S6(2) and S6(3) are germane to all Foreign Judgment applications. This is because prescribed conditions therein will serve as a guard for the court to avoid circumstances wherein a registered Judgment will be subsequently set aside on the basis of the provision stated in S6 of the Act. The provision therein is not mandatory but necessary when considering whether a Foreign Judgment will be registered or not … Therefore once Applicant seeking registration has presented facts to support the prerequisites under S4 for registration, the lower court must presume the foreign court had jurisdiction. The court will refuse to register a foreign Judgment when these aforesaid conditions have not been fulfilled inclusive of where the Judgment could not be enforced by execution in the country of the original court. The conditions set out under S4 of the foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act should be considered by the Learned Trial Judge before registering the Judgment or refusing to register.

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

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MEANING OF “OR” IN RELATION GROUNDS UPON WHICH FOREIGN JUDGEMENT MAY NOT BE REGISTERED

Section 3(2)(a-f) of the 1958 Act quoted above specified the grounds upon which foreign Judgment should not be registered. The grounds are alternative grounds and cannot be combined. I agree with the submission of the learned Senior Counsel for the Respondent that the word “or” used in between the grounds is disjunctive and not conjunctive. The word “or” suggests that one cannot rely on the two grounds at the same time.

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

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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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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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THE REGISTERING COURT AND THE ORIGINAL COURT SHOULD KEEP WATCH NOT TO CONFLICT IN EXECUTION

The process of execution of a judgment may take different forms and may necessitate other ancillary proceedings. In the quest to eliminate any conflict of jurisdiction as to execution between the registering court and the original court, it is important for either of the courts to discover what is being done or has been done by either of them at a particular time before either assumes jurisdiction. It seems to me that the matter boils down to the necessity for both courts to prevent an abuse of its execution process rather than in the proclamation of principles.

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

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COURT CAN SET ASIDE THE REGISTRATION OF A FOREIGN JUDGEMENT

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 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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