Kevin Brady, a prominent Delaware litigator, provides the following synopsis:
In a unique and somewhat esoteric exercise for devotees of Delaware corporate law, the Court of Chancery entered a judgment in this case of approximately US$2.2 million related to a longstanding attempt by plaintiff to enforce a 1999 Nigerian judgment. After eight years of failing to collect on the judgment, the plaintiff filed an action against Transamerica Airlines, a Delaware corporation, in the Court of Chancery under the Uniform Money-Judgments Recognition Act. See 10 Del. C. §§ 4801-4808. Numerous issues arose with respect to the proper interpretation of the Nigerian judgment and for those readers who are interested in the nuances of this dispute, Vice Chancellor Parsons has already issued two prior opinions in this matter. See Akande v. Transam. Airlines, Inc., 2007 WL 1555734 (Del. Ch. May 25, 2007); and Akande v. Transam. Airlines, Inc., 2008 WL 509817 (Del. Ch.Feb. 25, 2008).
While much of Vice Chancellor Parsons’ 37-page opinion pertains to interpretation of Nigerian law, the relevant discussion for this blog is the Court’s determination as to which currency should apply for a portion of the judgment to be awarded – U.S. dollars or Nigerian naira. While a Nigerian court addressing this dispute made an award in naira, the Court of Chancery determined that it could only enforce the Nigerian judgment in U.S. dollars. In order to convert the judgment from naira to dollars, the Court applied the “generally accepted principle in American law that, ‘if the obligation to pay in foreign currency arose in the foreign country and the non-defaulting party would get damages in that country in the foreign currency, the currency will be valued as of the date of judgment . . . .” Accordingly, the Court used the exchange rate from the date the judgment was entered in 1999 with post-judgment interest accruing from that date onward.