HOW TO GET A JUDGMENT ENFORCED IN NIGERIA
The Sheriffs and Civil Process Act establishes a standard enforcement process for all superior courts.
HOW TO GET A JUDGMENT ENFORCED IN NIGERIA
The Sheriffs and Civil Process Act establishes a standard enforcement process for all superior courts. In cases when the court has delivered a judgement in favour of a party, if that ruling is not enforced, it is useless to that party. In Nigeria, a judgement must be enforced in accordance with the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, Judgment (Enforcement) Rules, and the Rules of Court.
TYPES OF JUDGMENTS
A declaratory judgement does not contain any orders that can be executed against the judgement debtor; it just announces or declares the existence of a legal relationship. However, declaratory judgments may serve as the basis of further proceedings in which the rights, having been violated, receive enforcement.
An executory judgement is enforceable since it states the parties' respective rights before ordering the judgement debtor to do something. In David Ogunlade v. Ezekiel Adeleye it was decided upon that ".whilst an executory judgment is capable of immediate execution, a declaratory judgment gives no such right. It merely declares the rights of the parties. The rights which it confers on the plaintiff can only become enforceable if another and subsequent judgment, albeit relying on the rights it declared, so decrees. Such a subsequent judgment conferring the power of execution is executory."
THE APPLICABLE NIGERIAN LAWS
The 1999 Constitution
The Sheriffs and Civil Processes Act
Judgment Enforcement Rules
The Civil Procedure Rules of the various courts.
PROCEDURE FOR ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENT
The procedure for enforcement will depend on whether the judgment is a Money or Non-money.
The Writ of Fieri Facias, Garnishee procedures, Judgment summons, and the Writ of Sequestration are all methods of enforcing a money judgement. WRIT OF FIERI FACIAS
WRIT OF FIERI FACIAS
This is also referred to as a Writ of Fi.Fa or an Attachment and Sale Writ. This writ cannot be issued until 3 days have passed since the verdict was rendered, unless the court gives permission.
Writ of FiFa is used to levy execution against the judgement debtor's property, both movable and immovable, so long as they are located within the court's territorial jurisdiction. It can only be granted after 3 days have passed from the date the judgement was delivered, according to Order IV Rule 1(2) of the Judgment Enforcement Rules. The first call is on the judgement debtor's movable property, and Section 25 of the Sheriffs and Civil Processes Act restricts the property that may be seized and excludes clothing, bedding, and tools and implements of the judgement debtor's trade up to a value of N10, which is unquestionably insignificant given the depreciation of the naira.
It is crucial to note that seized property cannot be sold until five clear days have passed after the date of seizure, unless the products are perishable or the judgement debtor requests in writing that they be sold. If the execution of the judgement on the judgement debtor's movable property does not satisfy the debt, then his immovable property may be attached, but only with the High Court's permission.
Before a judgement creditor can be granted permission to seize the debtor's immovable property, he or she must first demonstrate that the proceeds from the sale of the debtor's movable property did not settle off the debt in full and that the property in question actually belonged to the judgement debtor. Leave won't be given until these facts have been credibly shown. Unless the judgement debtor requests otherwise in writing, the sale will only take place after the 15-day period following the attachment has passed
Through these legal procedures, a judgement creditor (garnishor) can attach a debt owed by a third party (garnishee) to the judgement debtor in payment of the judgement debt. Any obligation must be due or accruing to the judgement debtor, be a known quantity, and have an instant legal claim to the judgement debtor for it to be attachable.
Application is by motion ex-parte supported by an affidavit. Upon hearing, the Court may make an Order Nisi ordering the garnishee to disclose the amount standing to the credit of judgment debtor to the Court and appear to show cause why the order should not be made absolute to compel him to pay the debt over to the judgment creditor. The Order shall be served on the judgment debtor and garnishee at least 14 days before the date fix for hearing. The garnishee is to pay into court the amount within 8 days of service on him, after payment he is to depose to an affidavit of compliance, where he claims that the money of the judgment debtor is not in custody, he is to depose to an affidavit stating such fact. Where he refuses to comply with the order or deny liability, the Court upon proof of service may order that execution be levied against him, or order trial, if found liable, then execution will be levied against him if otherwise, he will be discharged. Where the money is in a public officer’s custody, there is a need for the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation or State before the Court can make an Order Nisi. After hearing, an order absolute would be made and the money will be transferred to the judgment creditor.
The SCPA's Section 55 makes provision for this. In order to bring the debtor to court to provide answers to queries about his means while under oath, the judgement creditor requests in court that a judgement debtor summons be issued.
Application is by filing the praecipe in Form 13 for the issuance of a judgment summon, requiring the judgment debtor to appear and be examined as to his means. The summons can be either in Form 14 or 15. If the judgment debtor refuses to attend Court or intends to abscond to avoid being examined on oath, the court may issue a warrant for his arrest and detention. After investigation, the court may make any of the following orders: commit the judgment debtor to prison, order for the attachment of the judgment debtor’s property, order for payment in installments. If committed to prison under a judgment summons, the judgment creditor is to pay for his sustenance to the tune of not more than 45 kobo daily. If he fails to pay, the judgment debtor shall be released.
WRIT OF SEQUESTRATION
The court-appointed commissioners are instructed by this writ to enter the judgement debtor's immovable property, collect and keep all rents and profits therefrom, and/or seize and imprison the judgement debtor's movable property until the latter complies with the ruling. No title is given to the sequestrators by the Writ.
Writs of Possession are used to carry out judgments for the return of property or the delivery of possession, whereas Warrants of Possession are used to carry out judgments between landlord and tenant. Except as otherwise directed by the court, the writ may only be issued after 14 days have passed since the ruling. A writ of Delivery in Form 67 must be used to enforce any judgement relating to the delivery of goods.
PROCEDURE TO ENFORCE FOREIGN JUDGMENTS
With common law jurisdictions, the judgment creditor institutes an action in the foreign country, with the judgment sought to be enforced as the subject matter of the suit.
Under Part 1 of the Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act, countries are to be listed by an order of the Minister of Justice to enjoy ease of enforcement of judgment; however, no such order has been made yet.
Registration of the judgment in Nigeria may be done within 6 years of delivery by way of a motion. The judgment must however, be capable of enforcement at the date of delivery in the foreign country.
Lastly judgement enforcement is also important as obtaining the judgement itself, however, the procedure for enforcement will depend on the type of judgement.
NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact email@example.com
WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM
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