HOW TO ENFORCE JUDGEMENT: JUDGEMENT SUMMONS
Every litigant has the right to enjoy the outcome of their case, which is a judgment. However, given human nature, it is not unusual to see people who have been judged refuse to comply with the ruling. As a result, judgment enforcement regulations have been put in place to ensure that the judgment is carried out.
Judgement summons are one method of enforcing a judgment under the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act. The scenario below exemplifies what judgment summons is all about.
(A day in Court for judgement to be delivered in the suit between Mr. Salami Alao V Mr Uche John)
Judge: …In these circumstances, the Claimants claims dated and filed on the 18th of February, 2022 succeeds. Accordingly, this Honourable court hereby make the order directing the defendant to pay the sum of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira Only) as money owed to the claimant. I rise!
(One month after judgement had been given)
Counsel to the Claimant: My Lord, we have an application before this Honorable Court and with your kind permission, we want to move it.
Judge: Go ahead.
(Counsel moves his application praying the court to issue a judgement debtor summons to invite the debtor to court to answer on oath, questions as to his means).
The court grants the application. The summons/invitation is served on the judgement debtor. He then comes to court.
Judge: Can you tell this Honourable court why you have not paid the judgement debt?
The likely outcomes of this invitation to court, according to the SCPA, are:
The judgement debtor may be committed to prison for failure to settle debt, where it is discovered that he has the means but simply refuses to pay.
The court may give an order attaching his property for sale.
The court may give an order for payment in installments.
The court may give an order for the discharge of the judgment debtor from prison.