A Garnishee lacks the power to fight the cause of a Judgement Debtor.

 

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc v. Innoson Nig. Ltd. [2017] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1591) 181 at 203, paras. D-F, per Eko, JSC:

“It is not for a garnishee to fight the cause of a judgment debtor who either accepts the judgment against him and does nothing about it, or who may be indolent to fight his cause. No power in law inheres in the garnishee to make himself a busybody and proceed like Don Quixote, the Knight Errant, to fight the cause of the judgment debtor who is his customer. A judgment debtor whose money or property is seized or attached through garnishee proceedings in excess of the judgment sum has several options in law to deploy to forestall such unwarranted seizure or attachment. It is not for the garnishee to embark on any of such options, which he lacks the locus standi to embark on. The cause of action accruable to the garnishee in a garnishee proceeding is quite a limited one. It does not include his usurping the cause of action of the Judgment Debtor.”

Notes:

The Supreme Court by the above statement further reiterated what is otherwise trite principle of law regarding garnishee proceedings. It remains a mystery why the Appellant decided to fight what the apex Court rightly described as a mischievous proxy war against a Judgment that does not concern it.

Of course, the Appellant and the Respondent have been at each other’s throats in recent times. That is however not our concern here. It is enough to mention that banks, as garnishees, must take serious note of the Supreme Court’s pronouncement and avoid taking mischievous steps capable of frustrating a successful litigant from reaping the fruits of his judgment.



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has worked with a number of startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

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