Legal Practice by Foreign Lawyers without Enrollment in Nigeria is Unlawful – NBA

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The Nigerian Bar Association has issued a press release reiterating that that practicing law in Nigeria without being enrolled to practice is illegal.

Read the press release below:

 PRESS RELEASE: LEGAL PRACTICE BY FOREIGN LAWYERS WITHOUT ENROLLMENT IN NIGERIA – UNLAWFUL AND UNACCEPTABLE

Legal practice in Nigeria by the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act Cap L11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (LPA) is exclusively preserved for Legal Practitioners who have been called to the Nigerian Bar and whose names are on the roll of legal practitioners in Nigeria.

This is expressly provided in Section 24 of the LPA which defines a ‘legal practitioner’ as a person who is entitled to practice as a barrister and solicitor in Nigeria, either generally or for the purpose of any particular office or proceedings. While Section 2(1) (a) and (b) of the LPA provides that a person is only entitled to practice as a barrister and solicitor if his/her name is on the roll of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, or he/she is authorized to practice as a barrister by a warrant of the Chief Justice of Nigeria for the purposes of a particular proceeding. These provisions as pronounced in the Supreme Court case of Okafor v Nweke [2007] 10 NWLR (Part 1043) 521, 531 only means; “For a person to be qualified to practice as a legal practitioner he must have his name in the roll, otherwise he cannot engage in any form of legal practice in Nigeria.”

Any defiant by any individual or company in contravention of the above provisions and requirements of the LPA is unlawful and offence under Section 22 of the LPA

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Surprisingly, Nigerian Bar Association has received information that some companies in Nigeria are in violation of the provisions of the LPA, by employing foreign lawyers as “Director, Legal” “Head, Legal Department” or Legal Assistants to handle legal related matters in the company without enrolment. Such oversight has prompted the need for setting measures towards enforcing the provisions of the law in the interest of members of the NBA.

The Association has made efforts by writing to companies. For instance, the NBA recently wrote to Dana Group of Companies Plc to take appropriate steps towards ensuring compliance with the law or desist from the continuous disrespect of the rule of law. At the time of this press release the Association is yet to receive a response to the letter.

Henceforth, the Nigerian Bar Association will not hesitate to protect the interest of its members by monitoring and ensuring that only legal practitioners who are qualified to practice in Nigeria are employed as such in companies.

Accordingly the NBA through the Chairman of its Section on Legal Practice (SLP) will take appropriate steps through lawful means to enforce the provisions of the LPA against any company and foreign lawyer found wanting in this regard.

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