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22 Jan

ETHICS WEEK 4; REGULATORY BODIES IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION

WEEK 4 – REGULATORY BODIES IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION; RIGHTS OF LAWYER

:: REGULATORY BODIES AND ORGANS OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION.

Various bodies have been set up to regulate the Legal profession to maintain the tradition and ensure utmost discipline and reputation.

S/N BODY AND EST FUNCTIONS COMPOSITION
  Body of Benchers. Section 3 LPA

 

0 Legal Practitioners of the Highest distinction in Nigeria… Responsible for:

Call to bar and things incidental to (like issuance of Certificate, Prescribing dining terms, call fee, character, etc.).

Sponsor aspirant to the bar who needs at least 2 of them.

Discipline of aspirants and members of the profession.

– Can appoint caretaker (for < 12 months) to manage the affairs of the NBA where deserving especially where it cannot function.

– Take other measures to maintain dignity and value of profession.

CJN and S-Court Justices, President and Presiding Justice of the C-O-A, NIC, CJs of FHC, HC and FCT, AG Feds and States, President of NBA, Chairman of CLE, Thirty Legal Practitioners nominated by NBA, 10 other eminent members of the LP-Section 1LPA.
1. Council of Legal Education. Section 1 LEA Functions Provided in Section 2 LEA

Legal Education of Bar Aspirants.

– Issues qualifying certificates. Prescribes conditions in that regard as it is at their discretion-Okonjo v CLE.

Continuing Legal Education

Other expedients.

AG Fed is not a member but may give directives to the council.

Chairman appointed by President on Recommendation of AG Fed. – AG States (No AG Fed should be a member), – Deans of Recognized Faculties of Law, – DG NLS, President of NBA, 15 10 years LP selected by NBA,- Rep of Fed Min of Justice and  2 distinguished Authors appointed by AG
  Nigerian Bar Association

Article 1 NBA Constitution

Legally known as the Registered Trustees of the NBAFawehinmi v NBA (No. 2). Not created by statute but recognized by various statutes (has representatives in most statutory bodies and gets 90 percent of practicing fee-Section 8 LPA).

Maintaining integrity and Independence of the bar.

Promoting Legal Education, Law reform and public education.

– Promote good relations among members of the Association.

– Issues Annual Practicing Certificate, Seal and Stamp.

– Keeps database of LP offices and Practitioners.

Advisory functions to other bodies.

Investigates complaints against LP.

All persons that have been called to the Nigerian Bar upon enrolment at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
  General Council of the Bar.

Section 1 LPA

Make and Revise RPC and Legal Practitioner’s Accounts Rules. Made 2007 and 1964 respectively.

Confirm if this power has been transferred to Body of Benchers by Section 2 Decree No.21 1994. In practice NBA resists them.

 

AG Fed and States and 20 LP chosen by NBA with at least 7 having not less than 10 years experience.
  Legal Practitioner’s Privileges Committee. Section 5 of LPA

 

Confers rank of SAN on qualified Lawyers.

– (In conjunction with Body of Benchers) Makes rules in that regard (qualifications, restrictions, disqualifications, withdrawal, suspension of SAN, etc.) to maintain the dignity and reputation of the rank.

CJN and one SC Justice, President CofA, 6 CJs (1 from FHC). 5 SANS.

Tenure of 2 years and another tenure.

  Legal Practitioner’s Disciplinary Committee. Section 11 of LPA – A committee of the Body of Benchers which deals with discipline of members of the legal profession.

Consider allegations of misconduct about a lawyer and make directions to Registrar of Supreme Court to Strike out, suspend or restore name. Appeals go to Appeal Committee of the Body of Benchers then to SC within twenty eight days (28) of being served the LPDC’s decision. See Aladejobi v NBA

No justice of Supreme Court (confirm>>>), President and one Justice of CofA, Two CJs, Two AGs, Four Members of NBA unconnected with the matter/complaint.
  National Judicial Council. S 153 Constitution. Part 1 3rd Schedule. Recommendation to the President or Governor for the appointment or removal / discipline of Judicial officers in Nigeria Heads of Federal Superior Courts of Record (SCourt, CofA, FHC and NIC), Next most Senior SCourt Justice, 5 retired justices from Scourt/CofA, -5 CJs, 1 Grand Kadi, 1 President CCA, 5 NBA < 15 years at least one SAN, Two non-LP of unquestionable integrity. Appointments above that are discretionary are made by the CJN.
  Legal Practitioner’s Remuneration Committee. Section 15 of LPA Regulate Professional Charges and Remuneration, agreements and issues in that regard. AG Fed and States, NBA President and three Legal Practitioners.

 

:: EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS OF LAWYERS/LEGAL PRACTITIONERS IN NIGERIA: Section 22 LPA Only Legal Practitioners Can:

Represent Litigants and Prepare Documents relating to Proceedings in Court: Section 8 and 22 LPA, 36(6)(c) Of the 1999 Constitution, Uzodima v Police. This right may be in abeyance in certain instances (e.g. not robed, non-payment of practicing fee, witness in the case, suspended or debarred, interest in the case, etc. Fawehinmi v NBA. This right should be done competently Rule 14 and 16 RPC.

Prepare instruments transferring an interest in land (like deed of lease, assignment, mortgage… except a Will) for a feeSection 22. Penalty of N100. He should frank same and affix seal to increase presumption of veracity.

Make the Statutory Declaration of Compliance under Section 35 CAMA.

Prepare documents for probate or letter of Administration (does not include a Will). for a fee S 22 LPA.

Be appointed Judge of a Superior Court (excluding Sharia and Customary Courts of Appeal). After fulfilling the requisites-S 231, 238, 250 CFRN.

Be Appointed AG.

– Be conferred with the rank of SAN after fulfilling the requirements.

Become Notary Public: after 10 years Practice? and 7years consecutive prompt payment of fees, then take the oath of office before the Chief Justice of Nigeria-Section 2 Notrary Public Act. S-Court enters this in the register with date therein.

He should reduce agreements with client to writing for clarity although non-compliance does not absolve of liability-Rule 18.

:: RESTRICTIONS ON THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS. A lawyer may not be able to enjoy his exclusive rights listed above in certain circumstances like:

If he has not paid his Annual practicing Fees: payable to the Registrar of the Supreme Court before March 31st or within the month of enrolment. 90 percent of which is paid to the NBA and 10 percent to the GCB. NBA Seal and Stamp is usually given and a Lawyer should frank with same on legal documents-APC v Bello Sarki Yaki. Non-use may render it irregular and voidable but not void and can be remedied by affixing seal MPP v INEC, Rule 9 and 10. Or 2 Rule 1 FCTHCCPR 2004. As court should NOT be moved to dismiss the case in the interest of the client-Majekodumni v Christlieb. Although Government officers may be exempted.

– If he has not complied with the mandatory Continued Professional Development (though this provision is yet to be implemented).

– While in salaried employment, he should not appear as advocate (for his employer) in court except he is a legal officer in a government department. NBA v Koku, IBWA v Imano. Rule 8.

– Shall not practice law and (at the same time) engage in business/trade (especially those incompatible with the high standing of the profession. Rule 7 RPC Except with authority of GCB, or it is mere shareholding or non-executive director or Secretary of Company. Rule 7

– While in Public office he cannot simultaneously be involved in management or running of private practice. Ahmed v Ahmed, 5th Schedule, Paragraph 2 of the (Code of Conduct for Public Officers), of the 1999 Constitution. A. Obi Okoye has advocated for express exclusion of law lecturers as such practical knowledge is needed for incorporation in teaching.

If a SAN (SAN(PF)Rules 1979: – He can practice as a barrister but to practice as a solicitor, he needs at least another non-SAN. – He must appear in civil case with another lawyer (who may be a SAN or junior lawyer). – shall not draft instrument below N400 except pro-bono or parliamentary process-Rule 5, Shall not appear before inferior courts-ECWA v Ijesha.

Judicial Officers (Section 292 CFRN, Rule 6 RPC): – No judge of Superior Court of Record can appear as barrister (nor sign any pleading in any court) or tribunal both during service and after retiring or ceasing to be a judicial officer. He can however be solicitor or consultant after retirement… and can represent himself in court-Atake v Afejuku.

– A lawyer who previously acted in judicial capacity on a matter (or dealt with the matter in public official capacity) cannot be an advocate in it or accept employment in it.

– He should notify the branch of NBA of setting up his law office or relocation (not later than 30 days of commencement of practice). The notice should contain his Name, Address of Office, Date of Call and entry in Roll of Legal Practitioners. The particulars are entered into the Notice Database of NBA kept for that purposes. Rule 13.

– LP should not practice legal profession as a corporation or in conjunction with a non-lawyer or hold himself to be practicing as a partnership when indeed sole. Once elevated to the Bench, he should have his name removed from the partnership name. See generally Rule 5 RPC.

– When promoted higher bench not have his name used as part of law firm-Rule 5.

– Duty not to hold briefs and handing over his brief to another lawyer should be done in reasonable time (Rule 27) as the junior lawyer he gives may be presumed to have gone through the brief and client may be bound by court’s decision.

– Other factors like the requirement to be robed while appearing before superior courts-Rule 36 RPC, being a party/Witness in the case (except in technical matters-Rule 20 RPC) NBA v Koku, having conflict of interest and other circumstance that may be in breach of rules

– Retired judge may continue to use the word Justice in his name.

:: IMPERSONATION OF A LAWYER TROUGH WORDS OR CONDUCT

Any person who engages in activities exclusively reserved for legal practitioners (as discussed earlier) OR holds himself out as being a qualified legal practitioner when in actuality he isn’t (at the time of misrepresentation[1]) is guilty of an offence and can be liable to a fine of N100 OR N200 and or 2 years imprisonment-Section 22 LPA. Money transferred can be recovered and contempt proceedings may be instituted.

Prosecution for breach of this provision should be commenced within 3 years else it becomes statute-barred.

The introduction of seal and stamps by the NBA seems to check the excesses of counterfeit lawyers.

 

 

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[1] May be he never qualified or has been suspended or his name has been struck off.

Isochukwu

Quite eccentric really

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