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

Dictum

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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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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MINISTER OF JUSTICE HAS POWER TO EXTEND THE APPLICATION OF PART 1 OF THE 1990 ACT

Section 3 of the 1990 Act empowers the Minister of Justice of the Federation of Nigeria to extend the application of Part 1 of that Act with regard to registration and enforcement of foreign judgments of superior courts, to any foreign country, including United Kingdom if he is satisfied that the judgments of our superior courts will be accorded similar or substantial reciprocity in those foreign countries. And once an order is made under section 3 of the 1990 Act in respect of any part of Her Majesty’s dominions to which the 1958 Ordinance earlier applied, the latter ceases to apply as from the date of the order. The learned counsel for the parties have both agreed that the Minister of Justice has not exercised that power in respect of any foreign country under the said Act. I also agree with them on this and I so find.

— A. Kalgo, JSC. Macaulay v RZB (2003) – SC.109/2002

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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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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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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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NON-SUBMISSION TO THE JURISDICTION OF FOREIGN COURT

✓ In the New Zealand case of Sharps Commercials Ltd. v. Gas Turbines Ltd. (1956) NZLR 819, the Supreme Court of that country, held that a judgment given by the High Court of Justice in England in an action in personam (as in the instant case leading to this appeal), could not be registered in that Supreme Court because, the judgment debtor – a Company registered in New Zealand, which at no time, had any office or place of business in England, but or although it was served with the Writ, it did not take any part in the proceedings in the said High Court or submit to its jurisdiction or agree in respect of the subject-matter of the proceedings to submit to the judgment of that court, because none of the conditions set out in Section 6(3) of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act, 1934 of New Zealand (which is substantially the same with the 1958 Act).

✓ In the case of Schibsby v. Westenholz & Ors. (1861 – 73) All E.R. 988, it was held that a judgment obtained in a foreign court in default of appearance, against the defendants who were not subjects of the Foreign State and who also, were not resident there at the time the proceedings were instituted and who also did not own any property in that foreign State, but although the defendants had notice of the said proceedings sufficient for them to have appeared and defend the action, they had no duty, to obey the judgment so, an action to have the judgment enforced, failed. I note however, that this case, was before the 1933 Act.

✓ In the case of Societe Cooperative Sidmetal v. Titan Internatioonal Ltd. (1966) 1 Q.B. 828. it was held or decided by the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice, London, England, that a judgment of a Belgian Court given against a defendant resident in England, could not be registered in England under the 1933 Act because, although the defendant, was served with the processes in England, he did not surrender to the jurisdiction of the Belgian Court by voluntarily appearing and participating in the proceedings.

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