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ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN treatment in the country where the


ARBITRAL AWARDS IN award was obtained. To succeed in the
action, the plaintiff must prove the
NIGERIA
existence of the arbitration agreement,
the proper conduct of the arbitration in
February 2009 Vol. 22: Issue # 2
accordance with the agreement, and the
validity of the award.
Commercial arbitration has become a
major attraction in international
The defendant may, however, resist
transactions owing to its speed and
the enforcement of the award by
effectiveness in resolving commercial
challenging the award, the conduct of
disputes. Having obtained the award
the arbitration or the jurisdiction of the
however, the successful party would
arbitral tribunal. However, the
have to enforce the award against his
defendant cannot rely on misconduct or
adversary.
impartiality on the part of the arbitral
tribunal, for those points can only be
The willingness of Nigerian courts to
taken on an application to set aside the
enforce foreign arbitration awards and
award. In Nigeria, this procedure could
the ease or difficulty of doing so and the
take about a year or more to conclude.
likely timescale of the process of
enforcement are issues of immense
(b) By registration under the Foreign
concern to any foreign person wishing
Judgment (Reciprocal
to enforce an arbitral award in Nigeria.
Enforcement) Act 1990
This is the focus of this short newsletter.
Under the Foreign Judgment (Reciprocal
Enforcement) Act 1990, a judgment or
Foreign arbitral awards can be enforced
award obtained in a foreign country
in Nigeria through five principal ways,
may be enforced in Nigeria within six
namely:
years of the judgment or award.

(a) By an Action upon the award


The judgment or award would have to
be registered first in a Nigeria court
In Toepher Inc. of New York v.
with jurisdiction to hear the dispute.
Edokpolor (trading as John Edokpolor
The judgment must be final and
& Sons) [1965] All N.L.R. 307, the
conclusive as between the parties and
Nigerian Supreme Court held that a
there must be payable thereunder a sum
foreign arbitral award could be enforced
of money, not being a sum payable in
in Nigeria by suing upon the award,
respect of a fine or other penalty.
even where there is no reciprocal

©Blackfriars LLP 2009. All rights reserved. This document is for general guidance only. Definitive advice
should be sought from counsel if required. Blackfriars LLP is a Nigerian law firm with a representative
office in Toronto, Canada.
WWW.BLACKFRIARS-LAW.COM

However, only countries, which accord Section 51 of the Arbitration and


reciprocal treatment to Nigeria, as Conciliation Act, 1990 provides that:
designated by the Minister of Justice,
would be recognized. Under Section 6 of “(1) An arbitral award shall,
the Act, the registered award or irrespective of the country
judgment may be set aside on the in which it is made be
application of the defendant if the court recognized as binding and
is satisfied that: subject to this section and
• the Act has not been complied section 32 of this Act, shall,
with, or upon application in
• the original court had no writing to the Court, be
jurisdiction, or enforced by the Court.
• the judgment was obtained by (2) The party relying on an
fraud, or award or applying for its
• that the enforcement would be enforcement shall supply
contrary to public policy, or (a) the duly authenticated
• on grounds of res judicata, or original award or a duly
• that the rights under the certified copy thereof; (b)
judgment are not vested in the the original arbitration
person by whom the application agreement or a duly
for registration was made. certified copy thereof (c)
where the award or
Ordinarily this is a fast process but of arbitration agreement is
limited application due to the not made in the English
requirement that the award must be for language, a duly certified
the payment of a sum of money and the translation thereof into the
judgment must have become English language.”
enforceable as judgment of a court
according to the law of the place where Section 52 provides a list of grounds for
it is made. If the registration is refusing recognition or enforcement
challenged, the process may become which are similar to the ones mentioned
prolonged up to a year or more. in (b) above. These grounds could also
be a hindrance to an otherwise very
(c) Under Section 51 of the expeditious method of enforcement.
Arbitration & Conciliation Act,
1990

©Blackfriars LLP 2009. All rights reserved. This document is for general guidance only. Definitive advice
should be sought from counsel if required. Blackfriars LLP is a Nigerian law firm with a representative
office in Toronto, Canada.
WWW.BLACKFRIARS-LAW.COM

(d) Enforcement under the New York perhaps the fastest procedure in Nigeria
Convention 1958 for enforcing an arbitral award as there
is little or no room for objections to the
The New York Convention on the enforcement of the award.
Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign
Arbitral Award 1958 applies in Nigeria
by virtue of section 54 of the Arbitration
and Conciliation Act 1990. Nigeria has
made reciprocity reservation and so
only awards made in contracting states For further information, please contact:
that undertake to recognize and enforce
awards made in other contracting states, Ms. Nkeiru Onyeaso
including Nigeria, will be recognized Tel: +234 808 718 0833
and enforced in Nigeria. Email: Nkay@blackfriars-law.com
Fax: +234 1 2694781
(e) Enforcement under the
International Centre for Dr. Pius Okoronkwo
Settlement of Investment Tel: +647 831 7487
Disputes (ICSID) Email: pius@blackfriars-law.com
Fax: +234 1 2694781
Nigeria ratified the ICSID Convention
on 23 August 1965. In pursuance of its Dr. Chidi Oguamanam
commitment to domesticate the ICSID Email: chidi@blackfriars-law.com
Convention, the convention was re- Phone: +234 1 739 0397 (Lagos)
enacted as a local legislation vide the Phone: +1 902 494 7125 (Halifax)
International Centre for Settlement of Fax: + 234 12694781
Investment Dispute (Enforcement of
Awards) Act, cap 19 Laws of the
Federation of Nigeria 1990. The Act
This newsletter has been sent to you by
provides that an ICSID award shall be
BLACKFRIARS LLP, a full-service law firm, in
enforced in Nigeria as if it were an the genuine belief that its contents would be of
award contained in a final judgment of interest to you. If you have received this
the Supreme Court if a copy of such an newsletter incorrectly, or if you do not want to
award, duly certified by the Secretary receive further information about legal
developments in Nigeria and West Africa,
General of the Centre is filed in the
please accept our apologies. To unsubscribe
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recognition and enforcement. This is LLP please send an email to info@blackfriars-
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©Blackfriars LLP 2009. All rights reserved. This document is for general guidance only. Definitive advice
should be sought from counsel if required. Blackfriars LLP is a Nigerian law firm with a representative
office in Toronto, Canada.