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22 Jan

ETHICS WEEK 3; OVERVIEW OF THE COURSE AND HISTORY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION

WEEK 3- OVERVIEW OF THE COURSE AND HISTORY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION.

:: HISTORY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION IN NIGERIA.

Nigeria had diverse pre-colonial systems of justice which were majorly conciliatory and traditional (my quote).

The history would be divided into 3 landmark periods viz; 1876-1914, 1914-1962, 1962 till date

  1. 1876-1914: flowing from our inextricable historical and colonial link with Britain, the cession of Lagos in 1861 and the establishment of the Supreme Court of her Majesty’s Settlement in Lagos by Supreme Court Ordinance 1863… the Supreme Court Ordinance of 1876 Berthed the English type legal profession and provided that the following could practice:

– Professionally qualified lawyers: (who either qualified as barristers[1] or solicitors in England, Scotland and Ireland) could enrol to practice as barristers and solicitors in Nigeria-Section 71.

– Persons who have served for continuous 5 years in the office of a practicing barrister or solicitor residing within jurisdiction and passed exam (on principles and practice of law) as directed by CJustice-Section 73.

Fit and proper persons (to practice for 6 months) who passed an examination set by CJ. To meet up with insufficiency. These persons were referred to as local Attorneys. See Section 74 of the Ordinance[2].

  1. 1914-1962

Following the amalgamation of Southern and Northern Nigeria in 1914. From this period, only professionally qualified barristers or Solicitors could practice. University degree was not a pre-requisite for call to bar (Just attend the dining terms) but graduate barristers and solicitors had better salary and one with 2.1 is exempted from Bar Part I. Graduate solicitors spend only 2 years articled in a firm of solicitors in England (as opposed to the 4 years for those with WAEC Certificate). Note: Solicitors draws up agreements and give legal advice while barristers settle pleadings and conduct cases in court.

Deficiencies of an English Trained Lawyer practicing in Nigeria

  • Upon Enrolment in the Nigerian Supreme Court, they could practice as barrister AND solicitor however, abroad they only qualified as barristers OR solicitors.
  • They were not well equipped to represent Nigerians who were largely illiterates.
  • They did not have the Nigerian mentality nor did they have knowledge of Indigenous customary law and land law.
  • The Federal System of Government in Nigeria was different from the unitary system in England upon which their textbooks are predicated.

These constraints amongst other problems were sought to be remedied by the setting up of the Unsworth Committee on the future of Nigerian Legal Profession in 1959. Headed by the then Attorney General E.I.G Unsworth. Some recommendations of the committee include;

  • Nigeria’s establishment of:
    • Her own system of legal education.
    • Her Faculties of Law (Starting with University College Ibadan now University of Ibadan).
    • Her own Nigerian Law School to provide vocational training to aspirants to the Bar.
    • The Council of Legal Education.
    • The Nigerian Bar Council (which should have its disciplinary committee).
  • A degree from a Law Faculty of an approved university (having undertook the requisite courses) and a degree from the Nigerian Law School should be pre-requisites for admission into the legal profession.

In accepting these recommendations, the Federal Government promulgated the Legal Education Act and the Legal Practitioners Act in 1962 which made provisions in that regard.

Graduates from England who have been called to the bar were to take the 3 months programme while others 1 year. Confirm. This takes us to the next period.

:: WAYS OF BECOMING A LEGAL PRACTITIONER IN NIGERIA.

POST 1962 TILL DATE:

From Section 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1962, we now have 3 categories of persons that can practice in Nigeria vi;

  1. Those entitled to practice generally:
  2. Are those that have been called to the bar after presenting their qualifying OR exemption[3] certificate (issued by CLE[4]) and enrolment at the Supreme Court. Section 2, 5 LPA.
  3. Qualified[5] Foreigners[6] of good moral standing enrolled in Nigeria by virtue of the Attorney General’s Regulation[7]: Made after consultation with the General Council of the Bar and the Body of Benchers-Section 6 LPA. See Legal Practitioners (Special Facilities to Practice in Nigeria) Regulation 1968.
  4. Those Practicing for the purpose of a particular office: e.g. Government Legal Officers like A.Gs, officers in the Federal Ministry of Justice, FRSC[8]. They may not be legal practitioners… provided their offices or positions allows them to represent in legal matters.
  5. Qualified Legal Practitioners of Jurisdiction with Legal System Similar to Nigeria’s may by CJN’s Warrant be permitted (in deserving situations) to represent a litigant in a particular proceeding in Nigeria’s court. As Section 36 guarrantees the right to counsel of choice-R v Enahoro. The warrant does not absolve the practitioner of fulfilling immigration requirements-Awolowo v Minister of Internal Affairs.

The case of Eshugbayi v Eleko v Officer Administering the Government of Nigeria 1 1928 AC 459.

:: OVERVIEW OF THE ADR PROCESSES.

:: REQUIREMENT ON ADVISING ON ADR BEFORE LITIGATION. Rule 15.

 

[1] To be a barrister in England, he should have been called to the English Bar by the benchers of the inn he belonged to. There were four inns- Middle Temple, Inner temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn. They attended twelve dinners to qualify… lectures were not mandatory.

[2] Appears the last was in 1914 which application was refused. OSho Davies case.

[3] Pursuant to Section 4 LPA, the CLE gave an exemption through Legal Notice No. 439 of 5th July, 1989. The exemption was granted for Nigerian Citizens who are academically and morally qualified to attend the NLS but at that time lost the opportunity of attending the NLS due to reasons beyond his control. He must also have acquired up to 5 years’ experience making it needless to go through the Law School.

[4] Issuance is at the CLE’s discretion considering successful completion of academic, externship  (and 3 dining) exercise and good behaviour-Okonjo v Council of Legal Education (1979) Digest of Appeal Cases p 28.

[5] To practice in his own country. With moral character. He would also need to pass the exam set by the CLE on Knowledge of Nigerian Law.

[6] Of OAU countries which have reciprocal arrangement with Nigeria. Although Section 7 of the LPA says “any country” while this says OAU… now AU.

[7] This is Full exemption. There is however partial exemption which the Foreigner has graduated from a common law jurisdiction who have taught for 5 years or non common law taught for 10 years. He nned not take Bar Part I (the 3 months acculturation programme) but would have to take Bar Part II (the One Year Law School Course).

[8] The Regulation is Entitlement to Practice as Barristers and Solicitors (name of the office or department) then order.

Isochukwu

Quite eccentric really

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