Lagos: High Court ruling knocks back law society
According to local web site PM News, the judgement of the Ikeja court follows a law suit by barrister Oluwole Kehinde, who challenged the power of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to regulate the legal profession.
No right to charge
Mr Kehinde cited section 2(1) of the Legal Practitioner Act – which states ‘a person is qualified to practise as a barrister and solicitor in Nigeria if his name is on the roll of legal practitioners and by virtue of section 7(1), a person is entitled to be enrolled if he is called to the Nigerian Bar by the body of benchers in pursuance of section 4(1) of the act and produces certificate of call to the bar to the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court’.
As the section does not require a person to submit themselves to any other body -- including the NBA -- Mr Kehinde argued that the association does not have the right to charge lawyers a fee and submit their call-to-bar certificate for verification and validation, as is the current practice.
Null and void
Justice Opeyemi Oke said in her judgment: ‘The NBA is an association of lawyers and its duties as outlined by its constitution does not include validation and verification of the record of legal practitioners in Nigeria, neither does it entail the regulation of the legal profession in Nigeria.
‘Consequently, the call by the NBA for mandatory validation of records of legal practitioners in Nigeria for a fee constitutes a flagrant breach of the statutory role of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; it is, therefore, unlawful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.’