Insight from our member Emmanuel Ekpenyong

Common Questions on Registration and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Nigeria

What legislations regulate registration and enforcement of foreign judgments in Nigeria?

The Reciprocal Enforcement of |Judgments Ordinance, CAP 175, Laws of the Federation, 1958, Part 2 of the Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act, CAP, 152, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgment Rules, 1922 regulate the registration of foreign judgments in Nigeria.

Once a foreign judgment is registered by a Nigerian court, it effectively becomes a judgment of that court and may be enforced by the procedures for enforcing judgments as provided in the Sheriffs and Civil Processes Act, CAP 407, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

Who can a foreign judgment be registered and enforced against in Nigeria?

A foreign judgment may be registered and enforced against a person who;

(i)                submitted to the jurisdiction of the foreign court; or

(ii)              counterclaimed at the foreign court; or

(iii)            had before the commencement of the proceedings at the foreign court agreed, to submit to the jurisdiction of that court; or

(iv)            was at the time when the proceedings were instituted resident in, or being a body corporate who had its principal place of business, in the country of the foreign court;  or

(v)              had an office or place of business in the country of the foreign court.

What is the procedure for registration of foreign judgment in Nigeria?

The registration process is commenced by filing a motion ex parte under the relevant rules alongside an affidavit and a written address.

The registering court may direct that the judgment debtor be put on notice of the registration proceedings.

What is the period within which to register a foreign judgment in Nigeria?

A foreign judgment creditor must register the judgment in Nigeria within 12 months from the date the foreign court delivered its judgment.

Nevertheless, if for any reason the judgment creditor is not able to register the foreign judgment within the 12 months period, it may bring an application for extension of time to register the judgment before the expiration of the 12 months period.

What is the life span of a foreign judgment registered in Nigeria?

Upon registration of a foreign judgment, the judgment creditor must enforce the judgment within 6 years from the date of registration of the judgment. Once the judgment creditor commences the enforcement process within the 6 years period, he would not be deemed to be statute barred even though he does not complete the enforcement process within the 6 years period.

In any case, if for any reason the judgment creditor could not enforce the foreign judgment within the 6 months period; it may bring an application for extension of time to enforce the judgment before the expiration of the 6 years period.

How is a registered judgment enforced in Nigeria?

A registered judgment may be enforced by attaching the moveable property of the judgment debtor (writ of fifa), attaching the immovable property of the judgment debtor, attaching sums belonging to the judgment debtor in the possession of third parties (garnishee) or by judgement summons.

Can a registered judgment be enforced in any other jurisdiction in Nigeria other than the jurisdiction of the registering court?

If the judgment creditor finds that the judgment debtor has assets in other jurisdiction in Nigeria other than the registering court, it may file a motion exparte accompanied by an affidavit and written address for the judgment to be registered at the court within the jurisdiction which the judgment debtor has assets.

Does the expiration of the registration and enforcement period in one jurisdiction affects enforcement in other jurisdictions in Nigeria?

Notwithstanding the different jurisdictions of courts in Nigeria, expiration of the time within which to register and enforcement a foreign judgment in one jurisdiction affects its registration and enforcement in other jurisdictions. This is because the processes are regulated by similar legislations.

How can a clerical error in in a Ruling on registration of a foreign judgment corrected?

The Rules of all the courts in Nigeria makes provision for correction of typographical errors on Rulings and Judgments.