Case of the Day: Continental Transfert Technique v. Nigeria

The case of the day is Continental Transfert Technique Ltd. v. Federal Government of Nigeria (D.C. Cir. 2015). I last wrote about the case in August 2011. In 1999, Continental, a Nigerian corporation, made a contract with Nigeria’s Ministry of the Interior to create a computerized residence permit and alien card system. After disputes about the contract arose, Continental initiated an arbitration in London, pursuant to the contract. The arbitrators entered an award in favor of Continental in 2008 for ₦ 29.6 billion. Continental sought recognition and enforcement of the award in Washington. Here was my earlier summary of what happened next.

Continental sought recognition and enforcement of the award in both the District of Columbia and in England. In the English proceeding, the High Court preliminarily granted recognition and enforcement. In the DC proceeding, Nigeria defaulted after having accepted service of process, and the clerk entered its default. Continental then moved for a default judgment, and Nigeria moved for a stay to enable it to move to vacate the default judgment. The court granted the motion, and Nigeria then applied to Nigeria’s Federal High Court for an order setting aside the award and for a preliminary order enjoining Continental from seeking recognition and enforcement anywhere in the world. The Nigerian court granted the injunction, but litigation on the main question stalled.

In light of the Nigerian proceedings, Nigeria moved for dismissal of the US case, and Continental obtained a final judgment from the English court. Continental then amended its complaint in the US case to add a claim for recognition and enforcement of the English judgment under the District of Columbia’s enactment of the Uniform Foreign-Money Judgments Recognition Act. Nigeria sought a stay of the English judgment, and the English court granted a stay, but only on the condition that Nigeria post a £ 100 million bond, which Nigeria failed to do. The Nigerian Federal High Court ultimately denied the government’s application to set aside the award and held that the award was entitled to recognition and enforcement in Nigeria, and that Continental could seek recognition and enforcement elsewhere.

The district court confirmed the award and also recognized the English judgment. Nigeria appealed. It didn’t challenge confirmation of the award, but it did challenge recognizion of the English judgment on the grounds that it was not really a judgment and on the grounds that it was obtained by fraud insofar as Contiental did not inform the English court about the Nigerian injunction.

On appeal, the DC Circuit, per curiam, held that it lacked jurisdiction over the challenge to the English judgment. Since there was no appeal from the decision on the arbitral award, and since the relief Continental would obtain under the award is identical to the relief it would obtian under the English judgment, the appeal, even if succesful, would not provide Nigeria with any redress. Without redressability there is no standing and thus no jurisdiction.

The court went on to consider Nigeria’s challenges to various post-judgment decisions, which I don’t cover here.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

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