*Reiterates Its Earlier Call For Suspension Of The Award Of The Rank Pending Review Of The Criteria For The Rank

The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) has voiced concern over the large number of applicants who were recently shortlisted for the possibility of being awarded the status of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN).

BOSAN warned that unless the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) conducts a comprehensive review of the award, the rank risks losing its prestige and standing among stakeholders, according to a letter obtained by CITY LAWYER and addressed to the Chairman/Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad.

TheNigerialawyer recalls that the BOSAN, had earlier in June 2021 written Hon. Justice Muhammed, CJN, and the Legal Practitioners privileges committee praying them not to elevate any lawyer to the premium rank until 2024 to enable them to revamp the elevation process. BOSAN criticized the LPPC for making a mockery of the elevation process with the conferment of the rank on an unprecedented number of 72 senior lawyers in the 2020 exercise.

In view of the shortlist of another 130 lawyers for the rank, the BOSAN has again written the CJN via a letter, dated September 21, 2021, and signed by Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN), Chief Folake Solanke (SAN), and Mr. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) titled “RE: LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE’S LISTING OF 130 LAWYERS AS SHORTLISTED IN THE PROCESS FOR CONFERMENT WITH THE RANK OF SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA FOR THE YEAR 2021: REITERATION OF THE BODY OF SENIOR ADVOCATES OF NIGERIA’S (BOSAN) STRONG NOTE OF CONCERN ON THE QUALITY OF THE PROCESS AND PROCEDURE FOR THE CONFERMENT OF THE RANK.” Mr. Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, received a copy of the letter (SAN).

“Upon receipt of the letter from the Committee, we were hopeful that necessary changes as conveyed in our letter would be implemented to preserve the dignity of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

“However, following the recent announcement of the shortlisting of 130 candidates shortlisted in the process for conferment with the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, we are of the considered opinion that the concerns raised in our earlier referenced letter have not been addressed.” BOSAN wrote in response to an earlier letter signed by LPPC Chairman Justice Muhammad.

The body argued that it is not ‘willy-nilly’ that all individuals who fit the established criteria should be appointed in any given year since such an approach cannot but end in the erosion of the rank.

The Body advised that those who stand out from the rest of the shortlist should be given the rank. This is the time-honored rule that applies to admissions to all reputable schools when competition is fierce and spaces are limited, and it would be unacceptable to admit all individuals who appear to meet the criteria.

BOSAN noted, “It is not willy-nilly that all candidates that meet the set criteria should be appointed in any given year, as such an approach cannot but result in the degradation of the rank. It is those that prove to be outstanding within the shortlist that should be conferred with the rank. This is the time-honoured rule applied in relation to admissions to all reputable institutions in situations where competition is high and spaces are limited and where it would be inappropriate to accommodate all those persons who appear to have met the criteria.

“There is even a greater need for more stringent approach in cases where appointments are to be made on the basis of academic accomplishments.”

The members of the Inner bar are concerned that the current system and criteria for conferring the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria may result in a watered-down perception of the status of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, according to BOSAN who believe that it is critical that the LPPC ought to pause and reconsider the procedure and criteria for conferring the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

The Body further reiterates its earlier call for suspension of the award of the rank pending review of the criteria for the rank

The BOSAN said, “It has now become necessary that we reiterate, respectfully, the concerns raised in the body’s earlier letter. The members of the Inner bar are concerned that the current procedure and criteria for the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria would result in a watered-down perception of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. We are also of the considered opinion that it is imperative that the Committee pauses and reassesses the procedure and criteria for the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria as we fear that that (sic) the process could be reduced to a ‘mere compilation and submission of the listed documentation’ in the next few years, with no attention to excellence or distinction in the practice of law.

“In light of this, we write to reiterate our earlier recommendation that the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria be put on hold to enable the Committee to conduct and publish a credible and comprehensive review of the process for the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”

Pledging its support of the review process “in any way possible” and as a “dominant stakeholder” in the entire exercise, the body advised that the review process “should re-evaluate the criteria, guidelines and administrative processes leading to the selection, including the personnel at the SAN/LPPC Administrative Secretariat/Department, proper pre-screening of applicants, competitive processes and independent assessment free of lobbying, all geared towards attaining and sustaining continuous improvements and retaining the dignity, respect and reverence of the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the legal profession in general.”

Noting the urgency of its Save-Our-Soul letter, BOSAN said: “We would like to point out that a comprehensive review of the screening process is an urgent and necessary step to retain the dignity, respect, and reverence of the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the legal profession in general. The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria is still committed to providing its expertise and support at every stage of the review process and we are anticipating positive feedback and implementation of the recommendations in this letter.”

Book On The Dynamics of Mediation, Negotiation & Arbitration In A Globalized World [Order Your Copy]

Written By Professor C.J. Amasike, Ph.D; F.DRI; F.CIArb; M.ADRg; FIPA; FCTI Price: ₦20,000 or £25 per copy [Hard Back– 21 chaps/700 pages] Contact Information Email:  info@idrinstitute.cominfo@adrinafrica.org WhatsApp only: 0803-703-5989   Voice Call – Mobile: 0817-630-8030,+234-805-2128-456, +234-909-9651-401 Landline: 09-2913581, +234-9-2913499, +234-9-2919209 Office Address: 50 Julius Nyerere Crescent, [Next To The World Bank], Asokoro, Abuja – Nigeria. Bank Account Details Bank Name: UBA Plc. Account Name: International Dispute Resolution Institute Account Number: 1014072579