The NBA President, A. B Mahmoud, OON, SAN, recently led a combined delegation of the NBA Executive Committee members, members of the NBA Legal Profession Regulatory Review Committee (LPRRC), members of the British Nigeria Law Forum (BNLF) and members of the NBA Young Lawyers Forum (YLF) on a Legal Services Mission to the United Kingdom. The event lasted four days, November 29 – December 1, 2017. The Mission which was themed: ‘A Review of the Regulatory Framework of the Legal Profession in Nigeria and the United Kingdom’ was planned to further support the critical legal regulatory work commenced by the LPRRC which was inaugurated on 24th January, 2017 by the NBA President. The LPRRC had the mandate to review the current regulatory framework of the Nigerian legal profession and advise on its suitability to meet international standards and comply with international best practices for a robust, responsive and independent legal profession.
With the benefit of the robust recommendations already made by the LPRRC, the Delegation engaged the relevant British statutory bodies who are directly responsible for designing the regulatory architecture for the legal profession in the United Kingdom, examining the roles of the relevant bodies, scrutinizing current regulations governing legal practice, as well as examining the standards of continuing legal education in the United Kingdom in contradistinction to that which obtains in Nigeria. The Delegates also engaged other regulatory and legislative bodies on other matters of mutual interests and the draft Legal Practitioners’ Bill prepared by the LPRRC; as well as leading international lawyers and law firms on training, business development and Cross border partnerships between Nigerian and the United Kingdom.
During the Mission, there were far reaching deliberations and engagements which include: Roundtable with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA); Meeting with the Inns of Court College of Advocacy; Meeting with the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR)-Africa Committee; Roundtable Discussion with the Law Society of England and Wales; NBA-BNLF Symposium Hosted by Stephenson Harwood LLP and Meeting with the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
At the end of the meeting, the following action plans were agreed by the Mission:
- An updated report on the regulatory framework for the legal profession in Nigeria will be developed by the Legal Profession Regulation Review Committee (LPRRC) for implementation by the NBA;
- An improved draft and legislative advocacy strategy for the Legal Practitioners bill will be sponsored by the NBA;
- Partnerships between the Nigerian Bar Association and the statutory bodies of the United Kingdom for the Legal Profession on the development of standard mechanism for the legal profession in Nigeria will be developed;
- Partnerships between the NBA and law firms in the United Kingdom in the areas of training, business development and networking opportunities for Nigerian lawyers would be harnessed; and this would lead to the introduction of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Secondment Programme for outstanding Young lawyers for a brief period of three months beginning from 2018.
As we gradually move towards an electioneering period for the NBA, we can only hope that all the action plans would be effectively followed up and achieved. It is only then that all the resources that was put into the Mission would have worth their while.