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REGISTERING COURT DOES NOT SIT AS APPELLATE COURT OVER FOREIGN JUDGEMENT

Dictum

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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