The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed for second reading a bill seeking to repeal the Legal Practitioners Act and enact the Legal Practitioners law to provide for reforms and regulate legal profession.

The proposed legislation titled, “A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. L11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Enact the Legal Practitioners Bill to Provide for Reforms and Regulate the Legal Profession; and for Related Matters (HB. 1640),” is sponsored by Hon. Onofiok Luke and 25 other lawmakers.

Leading the debate on its general principles, Luke noted that the “Bill was transmitted to the House Committee on Federal Judiciary by the Body of Benchers, described by law as a body of legal practitioners of the highest distinction in the legal profession with the responsibility of formal Call to Bar of persons seeking to become legal practitioners, after consultation with stakeholders in the legal profession and the Judiciary.”

He explained that the Bill in a nutshell, seeks for proper regulation and reform of the legal profession in the country.

According to him, “the Bill when passed into law, will among others, confer statutory responsibility on the Body of Benchers to further strengthen its disciplinary control over erring lawyers, through the creation of more disciplinary committees.”

He said the Bill also seeks to further “strengthen and streamline the effective regulation of the legal profession as well as empower the bureaucracy of the Body of Benchers”, which hitherto, was merely playing the role of the Body’s Secretariat, for better legal service delivery.

“One of the major purports of this Bill is for Body of Benchers to carry out reforms that will have a far-reaching effect on the legal profession and Nigerians who are in the quest for justice. The provisions of the Bill are structured in a way and manner that meet the required standards and modern-day development in the legal profession. This is against the backdrop of the fact that some of the provisions of the extant Act have become obsolete, and need to be updated in order to bring them in line with international best practices.

“For the purpose of emphasis, it should be stated that in the 7th and 8th National Assembly, several attempts were made in order to update the provisions of the extant Act to bring into conformity with modern realities. However, these attempts did not yield the desired result. As such, stakeholders from both the Bar and the Bench, through series of consultative and interactive sessions came up with this harmonised Bill, which is before us today for deliberation”, Hon. Luke submitted.

When put to a voice vote by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase who presided over the session, Bill got the support of majority of the lawmakers and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary for further legislative inputs.

Similarly, the House in plenary, passed for second reading a Senate Bill seeking to amend the Federal Capital Territory Customary Court Act, 2007 to alter the Quorum of the Court for the purpose of ensuring timely dispensation of justice, expand the criminal jurisdiction of the Court.

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