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By Bayo Akinlade Esq.

I recently came across the proposed amended LPA coming from the NBA (the NBA harmonised version) and I was shocked to see a Section 13 and 14 which seemed to suggest that one can only practice law after being issued a practice licence by NBA and all documents must bear a stamp which can only be obtained from the NBA.

The implication of these sections are as follows

1. The Body of Benchers may have called you to Bar but the NBA NEC determines if you remain one.

2. The NBA which is a voluntary association of leaders who serve only a two-year term becomes a compulsory association and will now decide who practices as a lawyer.

I consider these 2 sections very worrisome and in some ways confusing because it seems to me that the Body of Benchers whose membership comprises of the most respected and distinguished in our profession becomes a cosmetic body while the NBA that has become a political platform with some questionable characters will now determine our practice trajectory.

I am concerned because our profession has suffered from poor NBA leadership over the years and yet we want to immortalize this same freewill association by giving it such powers.

I have taken the liberty to insert the offensive sections at the end of this write-up and strongly urge the Body of Benchers to remove any clause that will give the NBA powers it does not deserve.

NBA is registered as a voluntary Association and should remain so. The future of this profession should be protected, our dignity and integrity must also be preserved and only the Body of Benchers can be trusted with this responsibility.

Bayo Akinlade Esq is a former Chairman & Secretary of NBA Ikorodu Branch. Bayo also served as Assistant Secretary of NBA Lagos Branch between 2002 and 2004

Practicing Licence: Section 13: (1) Subject to the regulations, from time to time made by the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, a person whose name is on the Roll shall be entitled to practice as a legal practitioner provided that before offering any form of legal service, he obtains a practicing licence from the Nigerian Bar Association certifying that he is entitled to practice as a legal practitioner according to the provisions of this section.

(2) The practicing license shall be issued or renewed at intervals prescribed under the regulations made from time to time by the Nigerian Bar Association.
(3) The practicing license shall be issued or renewed by the Association being satisfied that the applicant has:
(a) Obtained the required number of credits under a mandatory continuing legal education scheme administered or approved by the Nigerian Bar Association;
(b) Paid annual practicing fees stipulated in this Act for the year the application is made; and
(c) Satisfied the Nigerian Bar Association that he is a person of good character.
(4) It shall be unlawful for any person-
(a) to act or to present himself or herself before any court, Tribunal or Arbitrator as a legal practitioner;
(b) in any way act as a legal practitioner or hold himself out as such including preparing and or signing or filing any contract, memorandum deed, will, lease, assignment, power of attorney, mortgage, title deed, notice, warrant, bond, legal opinion, affidavit or any other document whatsoever.

Stamp and Seal Section 14 : Every document of the type referred to in subsection (4) of section 13 signed by a legal practitioner in his or her capacity as such, and which purports to affect the rights, interests, estate or liability of any person shall be evidenced by affixing a stamp and seal to be issued to individual Legal Practitioners by the Nigerian Bar Association.

Click here to download the Harmonized Version of LPA

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