The Legal profession Regulation Bill which is known as A Bill for an Act to repeal the Legal Practitioners Act Cap C11 LFN 2004 and all amendments thereto; Legal Education (Consolidation etc,) Act Cap. L10 LFN 2004 and enact the Legal Profession Regulation Act which shall regulate the legal profession is currently having a smooth passage before both Houses of the National Assembly.
The Bill sponsored by Sen. Godwill Akpabio of the People’s Democratic Party in the Senate was first introduced at the Upper House on the 9th of March, 2017 when the first reading of the bill was made. The second reading of the bill before the Upper House was done on the 1st of November, 2017 which shows a space of almost seven (7) months before the second reading. Informations gathered by TheNigerialawyer shows that the bill is currently at the Committee Stage awaiting the Committee’s report, which is but only the third step in the passage-process of the Bill.
The Bill has however only passed through its first reading on the 28th of September, 2017 before the lower chamber being the House of Representatives. This invariably shows that the said soon to be Act still has a long process to undergo before it is eventually made law and as such, the likelihood of the bill commencing on the 1st of December, 2017 as stated in the draft bill dwells only in an obvious skepticism. Thus, this puts doubts in the minds of as many who think the Bill will begin legal operation anytime soon, as the legal document seems to be undergoing the incubation process in all ramifications. Considering how long bills take to be made law, it is believed that this piece of supposed legislation will not become legally binding anytime soon.
TheNigerialawyer recalls that the Long title as stated shows that if eventually passed, the Legal Practitioners Act as well the Legal Education (Consolidation etc,) Act Cap. L10 LFN 2004 will be fused into one Act known as the Legal Profession Regulation Act.
TheNigerialawyer also recalls that the Bill seeks the establishment of a council to be known as the LEGAL PROFESSION REGULATION COUNCIL OF NIGERIA as well as the Establishment of a Secretariat for the Legal Profession Regulation Council of Nigeria. The Council is intended to regulate the legal profession in the overall interest of the public and to achieve the regulatory objectives and professional principles set out under the Act; to regulate such other persons other to whom legal practitioners may delegate some of their duties, to issue Call to bar certificates amongst others.
Apart from judges, the Council is to include a Young Lawyer, women’s representatives from FIDA, three lay persons appointed by an Appointment Panel from the Institute of Directors, Nigeria; and the Nigerian Medical Association amongst others.
The bill intends to establish other committees such as the legal services, ethics and standards committee, the remuneration and welfare committee, legal aid and pro bono committee, education and training committee, young lawyers and career committee, amongst others. Quite interesting is the fact that the law seeks to make the body of benchers a committee of the council.
Part IV of the bill deals with the constitution and functions of the Nigerian law School which is an institution of the Council of Legal Education. The bill as well deals with the remuneration of legal practitioners with respect of scale of charges as well as the application for taxation of charges and other matters directly dealing on the above repealing and fusion. The bill is divided into several parts with a transitional and savings.
With the Current status of the Bill before the Lower House, it is glaring that the Bill has five steps to undertake before it will eventual metamorphose into an Act of the National assembly.