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The fragmentation of (mutual) trust in Commonwealth Africa – a foreign judgments perspective
Journal of Private International Law  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-01-12, DOI: 10.1080/17441048.2020.1846259
Pontian N. Okoli

Mutual trust plays an important role in facilitating the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. The 2019 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments also reflects some degree of mutual trust, although not explicitly. Commonwealth African countries seem to be influenced by mutual trust but have not yet adopted any coherent approach in the conflict of laws. This incoherence has impeded the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments especially in Africa. This article seeks to understand the principle of mutual trust in its EU context and then compare it with the subtle application of mutual trust in the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in Commonwealth Africa. The article illustrates this subtle and rather unarticulated application of mutual trust primarily through decided cases and relevant statutory provisions in the Commonwealth African jurisdictions considered. The article then considers how the subtle application of mutual trust has sometimes resulted in parallel efforts to promote the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and how a proliferation of legal regimes can undermine legal clarity, certainty and predictability. A progressive application of mutual trust will help to ensure African countries maximise the benefits of a global framework on foreign judgments.