*Says The Provision Is Likely To Be Abused And Lead To Monopoly
*Kicks Against Usurping Power Of Issuing Stamp and Seal from NBA To Body Of Benchers
*Proposes That 10 Years Post Call Requirement For SAN Rank Be Maintained

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Gwagwalada Branch, has presented its stand regarding the amendment of the Legal Practitioners Act and the Legal Education (Consolidation etc) Act.

In a memo to the President of NBA sighted by TheNigeriaLawyer, the Gwagwalada Branch proposed that section 14 of the Bill which grants powers of issuing practice license to the Body of Benchers be deleted.

They also proposed that the issuance of stamp and seal by NBA be maintained and should not be transferred to the Body of Benchers.

Furthermore, that the 10 years post-call requirement for the award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria be retained as opposed to the new proposed 15 years. As for the Legal Education Act, the NBA Gwagwalada Branch proposed that since Port Harcourt Campus has been approved, the new proposed Orogun Campus be removed.

Read details below

To: The President, Nigerian Bar Association.

From: The Chairman, NBA Gwagwalada Branch.

Date: November 14, 2021.

Subject: The Proposed Bill seeking to Repeal and Re-enact Legal Practitioners Act and the Proposed Bill seeking to amend Legal Education (Consolidation, etc) Act.

The above subject refers.

  1. The President may recall that there are currently two pending Bills at the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly. The first Bill seeks to Repeal and Re-enact Legal Practioners Act, and the second Bill seeks to amend Legal Education (Consolidation etc) Act. In view of the foregoing, the NBA Gwagwalada Branch (Eagle Bar), having thoroughly considered the Proposed Bills hereby presents her stand regarding the Proposed Bills as follows:

LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ACT

Having carefully considered the Bill seeking to Repeal the Legal Practitioners Act CAP L11, LFN 2OO4 and Re-enact Legal Practitioners Act, we do hereby make the following observations:

  1. PRACTICING LICENCE: Section 14(1) of the Proposed Bill makes it mandatory for Legal Practitioners to obtain Practicing Licence from the Body of Benchers before offering any form of legal service, however, the Proposed Bill did not provide yardstick for issuing such Licence, rather, the Bill subject the issuance of such licence to Regulations to be made by the Body of Benchers. We are of the view that Section 14(1) of the Bill be deleted as it is capable of taking away the Job of many lawyers and may bring about Monopoly in the Practice of Law. It will also mean that the BOB can decide to deny licence to any firm or individual without any reason.
  2. STAMP AND SEAL: Section 15(1) and (2) of the Bill seeks to usurp the Powers of the Nigerian Bar Association to issue Stamp and Seal and vests the Powers with the Body of Benchers. We are of the view that the Status Quo be maintained. That is, issuing Stamp and Seal should remain with the Nigerian Bar Association. We also worry that it will be tedious for the BOB to meet up with the demands of providing stamps for lawyers considering the huge number of lawyers in Nigeria.
  3. INTERPRETATION OF “ASSOCIATION”: Section 19 of the Bill which provides for the meaning of some terms defined “Association” to include Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association or any other Body Incorporated for the governance and management of the Legal Profession. We are of the view that the interpretation should stop at the meaning of NBA, which is Nigerian Bar Association. This is in order to prevent the proliferation of other Association within the Profession.
  4. ELIGIBILITY FOR RANK OF SAN: Under the Second Schedule, Item A, Section 6 puts the eligibility for the award of the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria at 15 years, it is our stand that the 10 years requirement should be maintained.
  5. REMUNERATION: Under the Second Schedule, Item B, Section 2(a)i, the word “Minimum” should be inserted before the word maximum”.
  6. PUPILAGE: Section 12(1) of the Bill seeks to subject persons called to Nigerian Bar to compulsory Pupilage for One (1) Year. While the Branch is in support of this particular provision, we are of the view that the Federal Ministry of Justice should be responsible for remunerating the pupils during the proposed One Year Mandatory Pupilage just like what is obtained in Medical Profession, and the remuneration shall not be less than N120,000.00 (One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira) only.

LEGAL EDUCATION (CONSOLIDATION, ETC) ACT

Having carefully considered the Proposed Bill Seeking to amend the Legal Education (Consolidation, etc) Act, we observe that the Bill seeks to establish additional campuses for the Nigerian Law School by establishing at least Two Campuses in each Geo-political Zone. We observe that in the South-South Zone, the Bill did not take into account the already approved Campus in Rivers State, rather, the Bill proposes to establish Orogun Law School Campus, Delta. It is our stand that the Rivers State Campus should be replaced with the proposed Orogun Campus since approval had already been given to Rivers State prior to the proposed Bill.

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