Whether a Law Lecturer can Engage in Private Practice

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CASE TITLE: PLATEAU STATE UNIVERSITY, BOKKOS v. GRACE JOSEPH & ORS

JUDGMENT DATE: 23RD NOVEMBER, 2018.

LEAD JUDGMENT: BOLOUKUROMO MOSES UGO, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT

INTRODUCTION:

This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.

FACTS:

This appeal is against the ruling of the High Court of Plateau State, overruling the preliminary objection of appellant to the validity of respondents’ originating summons and its purported consequential effect on the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain it.

Appellant, on service of the respondent’s summons but before properly entering appearance to the suit, filed a preliminary objection. Its contention was that, respondent’s lawyer, being a Law Lecturer on full time employment with the University of Jos, is a person in the Civil Service of the Federation and so dis-entitled by Order 1(1) and (2) of the Entitlement to Practice as Barristers and Solicitors (Federal Officers) Order 1992 to Practice Law as a private Legal practitioner as he did for respondents by preparing and signing their summons. Appellant filed its objection along with a written address as required by the Rules of the High Court of Plateau State.

Respondents filed a reply to the preliminary objection. There, they maintained that their originating summons was validly filed, and that in any event, the proper forum to entertain appellant’s complaint is not the Courts but the Code of Conduct Tribunal established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as confirmed by the apex Court in Ahmed v. Ahmed (2013) ALL FWLR (PT 699) 1025. The trial Court held in favour of the respondents.

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Believing that the trial Court was wrong, appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:

The Court determined the appeal on sole issue viz:

“Whether full-time employment as a Law Lecturer with a University, precisely the University of Jos, made Mr. P.M. Lere’s employment one in the ‘Civil Service of the Federation’ as to make him amenable to the provisions of Order 1(1) and (2) of the Entitlement to Practice as barristers and solicitors (Federal Officers) Order (S.1) 10 of 1992.”

DECISION/HELD:

In conclusion, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, and affirmed the decision of the trial Court.

RATIOS:

LEGAL PRACTITIONER – LEGAL PRACTICE: Whether a law lecturer can engage in private practice.

Full Citation: PLATEAU STATE UNIVERSITY, BOKKOS v. GRACE JOSEPH & ORS(2018) LPELR-46049(CA)

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