Practice Direction for Enforcement of Judgment and Orders of Magistrates and Judges in the FCT- Lessons for High Courts.

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The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Justice Ishaq Bello, on Wednesday signed the new Practice Direction for Enforcement of Judgments and Orders of Magistrates and Judges in the FCT (the Practice Direction).

The Practice Direction is aimed at reposing the confidence of the public in administration of justice.

Over the years, successful litigants have been confronted with frustrations in the actualization of the proceeds of their legal tussles. Key to such frustration is the filing of Notice of Appeal and Stay of Execution. The moment these two processes are filed by the judgment debtor, they operate as a clog in the judgment creditor’s wheel of progress.

In Lagos for instance, all that the Deputy Sherriff need to see to plead “my hands are tied” is an endorsement from the Appeal Section stating that the judgment debtor has filed a Notice of Appeal. For the deputy sheriff, it really doesn’t matter what the apex court has decided on the proprietary of such process, he is an administrative officer who acts under some form of regimented routines. This attitude would surely continue to frustrate the ultimate essence of justice.

While the provisions of the new Practice Direction for Enforcement of Judgment and Orders of Magistrates and Judges in the FCT is a confirmation of the long line of authority on whether a Notice of Appeal without an order of the court would operate as stay of execution of the court judgment/orders the innovation from the Practice Direction is that the judgment creditor would no longer wait until the final determination of the appeal before proceeding to execute judgment. All that is required is for the appeal court to determine an application for stay of execution (if there is any) one way or the order. The moment an application for stay of execution is refused, the judgment creditor can proceed to levy execution.

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Once again this is a commendable move by the FCT High Court. It is hoped that  other High Courts would follow suit.

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