Notable Court Verdicts on Automatic Membership of NBA (As An Association) Upon Call-To-Bar & On the Revered Status of the NBA as a Regulatory Authority for Nigeria’s Legal Profession – Udemezue


I have found other useful legal materials and appellate court pronouncements on the above nagging issues. I now share with us.
Happy reading!!!!
Long live NBA!!

  1. Membership of the NBA is Automatic Upon Call To Bar: In B.A. v. KEHINDE (2017) 11 NWLR (PT 1576) 225 AT 250 -251 paras H- A, His lordship NIMPAR.JCA, stated as follows: “The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was established for the purpose of regulating the affairs and conduct of all legal practitioners in Nigeria and upon being called to the Nigerian Bar, there is automatic membership to the NBA on a lawyer. See Chinwo v. Owhonada (2008)3 NWLR (Pt.1074)341. Hence, as long as one has elected to join and remain within the noble profession, he is a member and ought to comply with the directive of the Association”.
  1. On the Implications of subscription to membership of association, the Court or Appeal held in CHINWO v OWHONDA (2008) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1074) 341, at 361, as follows:
    ”The appellant was not compelled to take up the profession of law and its attendant compulsory membership of the Nigerian Bar Association. However, once he made the choice to study and practice law and thereby placing his name on the roll of honour of belonging to the profession, he stands bound by the internal rules and regulations of the Association. There would therefore be no issue of a breach of the Constitution of the country if the rules demand of him, UNDIVIDED LOYALTY”.
  1. NBA is a Regulatory Authority for the Legal Profession and its members, in Nigeria:
    The Court of Appeal (per TUKUR, JCA) in B.A. v. KEHINDE (2017) 11 NWLR (PT 1576) 225 at page 246 stared: *“I agree with the arguments of appellant’s counsel to the extent that the NBA is statutorily recognised by the Legal Practitioners Act. This was why my Lord Hon.Justice Obaseki,(JSC) in the case of Chief Gani Fawehinmi v. Nigerian Bar Association & Ors (No.2) (1989) LPELR-1259( SC)PP. 92-93,paras. C-E, (1989)2 NWLR (pt.105) 558 at p.628, paras. G-H while commenting on the status of the Nigerian Bar Association stated thus: ‘The Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Assocition is not a statutory instrument. It is not a subsidiary legislation to the Legal Practitioners Act….It was accorded its due superior position by the Legal Practitioners Act, 1975 in the conduct of the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association by the General Council of the Bar.’”
  1. NBA’s eminent regulatory role in the Legal Profession is also recognized by the provisions of the Rule 10 of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007, a subsidiary legislation, which provides as follows:
    ”A Lawyer acting in his capacity as legal practitioner, legal officer or adviser of any Governmental department or Ministry or any Corporation, shall not sign or file a legal document unless there is affixed on any such document a seal and stamp approved by the Nigerian Bar Association.”
  1. Enforcement of this provision and regulatory directive of the, by Courts, was given judicial backing by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Bello Sarkin Yaki v. Senator Atiku Bagudu (2015) LPELR 2571 (SC), (2015) 18 N.W.L.R (Pt. 1491)288 where the apex Court held that failure to affix the seal and stamp as prescribed/approved by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on any legal document prepared by a lawyer renders such document voidable.
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Sylvester Udemezue


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