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SIX YEARS TO REGISTER FOREIGN JUDGEMENT CANNOT BE APPLICABLE UNTIL MINISTER MAKES ORDER UNDER THE 1990 ACT

Dictum

Under S4 of the Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act, the period within which a foreign Judgment may be registered in Nigeria was extended to six years from the date of the Judgment. However, S3(1) of the Act subjected the coming into force of the provisions of part 1 of the Act which part 1 contains S4(1) of the said Act which provides for the period of registration to be six years if an order is made by the Minister of Justice directing the extension of part 1 of the Act to the relevant foreign countries. In effect, until the Minister of Justice in this country makes the Order under S3(1) of the Act, S4 of the Foreign Judgment Act cannot be available to any applicant to support an application to register a foreign Judgment within a period of 6 years from the date of the Judgment. See Marine & Gen. Ass. Co. Plc. v. O. U. Ins. Ltd. (2006) 4 NWLR (Pt.971) SC 622.

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

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

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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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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