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

Dictum

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

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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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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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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