Section 1 State Immunity Act 1978 applied to the registration of a judgment under the Administration of Justice Act 1920. Therefore, the State and its bank accounts , which had been attached by third party debt orders, were immune from jurisdiction and execution.Hearing of questions relating to the Federal Government of Nigeria's ('the government') immunity from jurisdiction and execution, in respect of bank accounts that had been attached by third party debt orders. The claimant ('AIC') alleged that it had entered into an oral agreement with an Italian company Aermacchi SPA whereby AIC had been appointed as Aermacchi's exclusive representative in Nigeria, with Aermacchi agreeing to pay AIC a percentage of its net sales in Nigeria as commission. In 1983 Aemacchi was awarded a contract by the government making them liable to pay AIC commission in the sum of US$8,194,300. When payment was not forthcoming, AIC issued proceedings in Nigeria. In 2000, AIC obtained judgment ('the Nigerian judgment') against the government and the Attorney General for payment in the sum of US$8,194,300. In August 2002 the Nigerian judgment was registered as a judgment of the Queen's Bench Division of Her Majesty's High Court of Justice in England and Wales under the Administration of Justice Act 1920. On 13 January 2003 interim third party debt orders were made in favour of AIC prohibiting the government's bank accounts from making any payment out of those accounts apart from any credit balance exceeding the amount due in commission. The following issues arose: (i) whether a judgment against a State could be registered under s.9 of the 1920 Act and enforced in the UK; and (ii) whether moneys in a bank account of a central bank that was a separate legal entity, belonging beneficially to the government of its state, were liable to execution if those moneys were used or intended for use for a commercial purpose. The defendants submitted that the court had no jurisdiction under the 1920 Act to register the original judgment against them as they were immune from jurisdiction by virtue of s.1 State Immunity Act 1978. AIC submitted that s.1 of the 1978 Act was inapplicable alternatively, even if it did apply the proceedings related to a commercial transaction within the meaning of s.3(1)(a) of the 1978 Act.HELD : (1) The effect of the registration of a judgment under the s.9(3)(a) and (c) of the 1920 Act was manifestly an exercise by the court of its jurisdiction. The effect was the conversion of a judgment of the original court into a judgment of the UK court enforceable by execution. This process required the defendant to pay a sum of money to the claimant, and required the defendant to pay the claimant's costs incurred in relation to the registration of the judgment therefore, s.1 of the 1978 Act applied to a registration of a judgment under the 1920 Act. (2) Even if the underlying transaction between AIC and the defendants was commercial s.3(1)(a) of the 1978 Act was not applicable. (3) The general rule was that property of the state should not be subject to execution and the government bank accounts were no exceptions. Accordingly, the registration order must be set aside.Judgment accordingly.

[2003] EWHC 1357 (QB)

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