PROCEDURE FOR ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN JUDGMENT IN NIGERIA
A foreign judgment can be enforced either by Reciprocal arrangement or by an action at common law.
The principle that guides this method is the principle of reciprocity. This mode of enforcement is hinged on the willingness of the Country where the judgment was given to enforce the judgment of Nigerian Courts. Countries that Nigeria enjoys this arrangement with ought to be contained in Part 1, Section 3 of the Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act by virtue of an order to be made by the Minister of Justice. Interestingly, the order is yet to be made.
An application within 12 months of the delivery of the judgment is to be made to the High Court by way of a Motion Exparte, supported by an affidavit and a written address seeking the leave of court to register the judgment. The Affidavit and written address must contain facts to prove that the foreign judgment was given by a country that has reciprocal arrangement with Nigeria and in some cases, the Court might however, demand that the party be put on notice.
Enforcement at Common Law
Under this method, the procedure is likened to a fresh action as it is instituted by way of a Writ of Summons with the judgment being the cause of action. The applicant (Judgment creditor) is expected to accompany the Writ with an application for summary judgment or an application to enlist the matter under the undefended list. This is particularly necessary for countries that do not have a reciprocal arrangement with Nigeria.
The steps and conditions for the grant of summary judgment are:
1. The other party has no defense and the production of a final judgment is sufficient proof of same.
2. Where the application is granted, the judgment would be executed in accordance with the Sheriffs and Civil Processes Act.
3. The application for summary judgment can however be denied and the case set down for trial where the court is of the opinion that the judgment debtor has a defense.
The conditions to be considered by the court in the enforcement of foreign judgment under common law include:
1. It must be a final judgment,
2. It must have been granted by a court with competent jurisdiction in the country it was given,
3. It must be a monetary claim or in reaction to a res within the jurisdiction of the foreign court.