Potential legal and regulatory reform in Nigeria?

We are delighted that the Nigerian Bar Association has expressed interest in the ICLR network and will be sending representation to the Singapore conference. Although the NBA is only responsible for part of the system of regulating lawyers at present, it has taken a leadership role in promoting the adoption of a major overhaul of the entire system, the details of which will be available shortly. The NBA’s regulatory reform committee has been driven in its work by the desire to raise standards in the profession. It is proposing to do so by clarifying the roles and responsibilities of regulatory structures, streamlining them as necessary, providing greater separation of regulatory and representational interests, promoting the involvement of lay interests and update the ethical framework for today’s Nigerian lawyer. President AB Mahmoud’s address sets out the high level vision that underlies this initiative

The following is an extract from the welcome address by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud (SAN), at the opening ceremony of the annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, 20 August 2017.  We are grateful to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for allowing us to publish this extract which highlights the recent work undertaken by the NBA to review the legal and regulatory framework which governs Nigeria’s legal profession.

“Your Excellency, my lords, distinguished colleagues, the legal profession in Nigeria cannot be a champion of institution building or transformation, unless and until it reinvents itself. Indeed many will argue that the legal profession and more broadly the legal order must be the first candidate for reforms. As a friend recently euphemistically said to me, the legal order, or more directly the judicial system, in any country is like the operating system on a device. Once it is corrupted or it breaks down, no other application will operate successfully and the device may ultimately shut down.
It is in recognition of this that we have embarked on a number of initiatives. One of such major initiative was to begin a process of complete review of the legal and regulatory framework for the Nigeria Legal Profession. In December 2016, I inaugurated a high powered panel under the leadership of Chief Anthony Idigbe SAN, a very seasoned and highly accomplished lawyer supported by 21 equally brilliant lawyers and academics supported by some of our brightest young lawyers to undertake a holistic review of the regulatory objectives and regulatory architecture of the Nigerian Legal Profession. The panel was to consider what needs to be done to modernise the legal profession and prepare it to service a modern growing economy. I am happy to report that the committee has completed its assignment and submitted a report which we have currently exposed and are taking feedback from our members and other stakeholders. This report contains far reaching recommendations that aim to propel the Nigerian legal profession into a completely new era. It is accompanied with a complete draft new Bill that deals with legal education, the regulation of law firms, professional discipline, the role of the Body of Benchers. It also seeks to introduce paid pupillage as a prerequisite for entry into the profession. The overall objective is to raise the entry requirements into the profession, raise the quality and standards of the bar, to provide for more rigorous regulation of law firms, instil a more effective disciplinary process and provide for effective and well supervised continuing professional development. I want to emphasise that the report is still work in progress and it will ultimately be a proposal from the NBA for which we seek stakeholder buy-in.”



ICLR 2017 Panel: A New Look at Regulators’ Roles and Responsibilities

This session will break conference participants into small discussion groups in which they will consider various issues relating to the evolving roles and responsibilities of new and mature legal regulators.  Participants are asked to do preparation for this session by reading the short briefings prepared by the group facilitators relating to the topic they are considering.

Facilitators will guide discussion with a view to producing 3-5 recommendations which will then be shared with the whole conference group.

The topics to be discussed will include:

  • Setting up a new regulator – where to start? Read briefing
  • The appropriate role for a regulator – How to avoid mission creep and when to accept it? Should, for example, a legal regulator be responsible for promoting access to justice and public legal awareness? Read briefing
  • Separating out regulatory and representational work – Where do the boundaries lie?  Read briefing
  • Changing regulatory structures: How to re-engineer existing regulatory structures into a new system? (awaiting briefing)
  • Managing the interface with other regulators – Whether it is lawyers who provide financial services in a form that needs to be regulated, or co-regulators for those who permit MDPs?  Read briefing
  • Designing the profession of tomorrow – Managing CPD – what does success look like?  Read briefing
  • How to manage exit from the profession? In some jurisdictions demographics point to a rapidly ageing profession with concomitant problems of inability or unwillingness to leave practice, the onset of dementia etc.  Read briefing

Choose your discussion group

In advance of the conference, select the discussion group you would like to join here.  There are only 15 spaces in each group and places will be allocated on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis.

Discussion Group Facilitators

  • Alison Hook – International Adviser, Solicitors Regulation Authority (Lead)
  • Roscoe Banks – Legal Director, Qatar Financial Centre and Nasser Al Taweel – Chief Legal Officer, Qatar Financial Centre
  • Motlatsi Molefe – CEO, Attorneys Fidelity Fund, South Africa
  • Russell Daily – Executive Director of Complaints & Intervention, Victorian Legal Services Board
  • Lorna Jack, Chief Executive, Law Society of Scotland
  • Isaac Okero, President, Law Society of Kenya
  • Christine Grice, Executive Director, Law Society of New Zealand
  • Vanessa Davies, Executive Director, Bar Standards Board

BA2020 consultation: The Netherlands Bar

The Netherlands Bar (Nederlandse orde van advocaten, NOvA) is consulting on the future of professional education and training for lawyers.

Currently, in order to qualify to practise law in the Netherlands, an individual must have 1) a Bachelor’s degree in legal studies, 2) a Master’s degree in Dutch law 3) have completed three years of training at a law firm as an advocaat-stagiaire. The training period is accompanied by basic and further legal training called the ‘Beroepsopleiding Advocaten’ (BA).  The BA covers civil, administrative and criminal law and a lawyer trainee chooses the area of law that best fits his or her chosen area of future practice as their major and a second area as their minor.  In addition, the trainee lawyer must choose a number of electives as well as undertake ethics training. The implementation of the BA is outsourced to external education and training providers, approved by the Netherlands Bar (NOvA).

NOvA is currently undertaking a public consultation procedure on the future design of the BA called ‘Consultation BA2020’.  The reason for conducting this consultation is to ascertain what abilities and knowledge a starting lawyer might need to have in 2020.  The main points of focus of the consultation are the following:

  1. The possibility of a bar-like entrance exam to the BA: how can the BA avoid duplicating/repeating the teaching of juridical content (the juridical basics) that should be taught in university?  If duplication could be avoided, hopes are that the BA, and therefore the service and skills of the starting lawyer, would be of a higher quality. Also, this could lead to cheaper and less time-consuming training, which is more practical and less theoretical. A point of discussion in this area is whether this BA entrance exam should also, besides juridical content, include soft skills and analytical skills.
  2. The potential for closer cooperation in the (practical) training within the BA and the training the firms provide to their lawyers-to-be.
  3. (After a broad-based bar exam) A greater emphasis on juridical specialization in the training, as NOvA believes specialization is key to further improvement of the quality of Netherland’s lawyers.
  4. A stronger emphasis on ethical aspects of the profession.

The consultation ends 18th September. After a thorough analysis of responses the NOvA board will decide on whether and how the current vocational training might be changed.  You can read more about the consultation on NOvA’s website.

Contributed by: Lucas Korsten, policy adviser, The Netherlands Bar


Reform in Legal Education and Training in Hong Kong

In the article which follows, Heidi Chu, Secretary General of The Law Society of Hong Kong kindly provides us with an overview of the ‘state of play’ of legal education and training reform in Hong Kong.

The present system of legal education and training in Hong Kong involves three stages, namely:

  • an academic stage (a qualifying law degree e.g. Bachelor of Laws “LLB” or Juris Doctor “JD”);
  • a vocational course (i.e. the Postgraduate Course of Laws (“PCLL”));
  • a workplace apprenticeship (i.e. a two year training contract with a law firm for intending solicitors or a one year pupilage at a barrister’s chambers for intending barristers).

The completion of the PCLL is a pre-requisite to entering into a trainee solicitor contract for intending solicitors. The PCLL is defined under the statute as the course provided by three specified universities (“PCLL providers”). The PCLL providers currently enjoy self accreditation status and are empowered to set their own admission criteria and conduct and mark their own examinations, subject to the PCLL benchmarks issued by the Law Society. The PCLL providers have thus become the gatekeepers to the legal profession upon both entry and exit of the PCLL, which is the entry point to the traineeship leading to admission as a solicitor.

In view of the changes that had taken place over the years including the increase in the number of PCLL providers, the varying qualifications of PCLL applicants, the widening of the scope of services provided by solicitors and the growing number of foreign lawyers in Hong Kong, the Law Society considered it important to ensure consistency in the assessments and standards of entrants to the solicitors’ profession. The Law Society has therefore proposed to introduce in 2021 a common entrance examination (“CEE”) in the format of centralised assessments for law graduates to qualify as solicitors in Hong Kong. This proposal will not affect those intending to become barristers in Hong Kong as the proposal is not to abolish the PCLL. The Law Society is finalising the details of the proposed CEE.

On the other hand, the Standing Committee on Legal Education and Training, which is a statutory committee set up to oversee legal education and training in Hong Kong, has commissioned a comprehensive review on the legal education and training area with a view to enhancing professional standards in the legal sector as a whole. The review is still on-going and a report is expected by the end of 2017.

Contributed by: Heidi Chu, Secretary General, Law Society of Hong Kong


ICLR 2017 – Panel: Effective New Regulatory Responses to Complaints

A synopsis of panel session 5, which takes place on 6 October at ICLR Singapore, kindly provided by the session’s moderator, Susan Saab Fortney – Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Texas A & M University School of Law. Conference materials will be made available to ICLR.net members after the conference.

The session examines new regulatory approaches to handling complaints. The following identifies the participants and the focus of their remarks:

Mr. Gregory Vijayendran, the President of the Law Society of Singapore, will introduce the roles and functions of the first two professional disciplinary bodies (the Review Committee and Inquiry Committee) and their interface with the Law Society Council in practice. He will also discuss the genesis and raison d’etre of a new, nuanced Inappropriate Conduct in Court regime incepted last year.

Mr. Edwin San, serves as the Senior Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court of Singapore and as the Registrar in charge of the Disciplinary Tribunal Secretariat. Mr. San will discuss the work of the Disciplinary Tribunal Secretariat, the role and functions of the Disciplinary Tribunals, as well as the final stage of the disciplinary regime when the matter is referred to the Court of 3 Judges.

Ms. Kathryn Stone, the Chief Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales will explain how the Legal Ombudsman came about, what powers it has and how it is the alternative for England and Wales. She will also cover how the ombudsman scheme has moved away from self-regulation and the interesting challenges it faces due to Brexit.

Mr. John Elliot, the Regulator of Solicitors and Director of Regulation with the Law Society of Ireland. Mr. Elliot will provide an overview of the “multiple complaints scheme” operated by the Law Society of Ireland that allows the Law Society to impose special conditions on the practicing certificate of solicitors with a record of multiple complaints.

Mr. Robert Brittan the Deputy Commissioner of the Legal Services Commission Queensland will discuss the Commission’s approach to regulation, how they handle complaints, and their jurisdiction as opposed to other regulators in Australia. He will describe what the Commission can and cannot do and compensation for complainants.

Professor Susan Fortney, Professor & Associate Dean for Research at Texas A&M University, United States, will moderate the session.

Why is this session of particular interest and to whom?

Around the world many regulators are pursuing creative initiatives to advance public protection and improve the delivery of legal services. This session provides a window  to look at new approaches used by regulators in four different jurisdictions.

What particularly do you hope to explore in this session?  Any specific questions you hope to answer?

We would like to examine the importance of exploring new regulatory approaches and the practical challenges to doing so.  We would like the conference attendees to reflect on their own experiences, considering the opportunities and challenges. In addition, we hope to provide a roundtable discussion of how we evaluate the success and effectiveness of programmatic changes.

What do you hope to achieve with this session?

We hope that the overview and roundtable discussion fosters understanding, helping regulators in tackling issues in their own jurisdiction.  It should also provide an opportunity to learn about others who may provide insights and assistance.


Test item with display dateVanessa Arora27 November 2006

Notes on source

This document was included in a review of regulatory information by the Legal Services Board in England and Wales, between 2010 and 2012. The following paragraphs repeat the LSB’s notes on the document at that time.

Supply | Dynamic market analysis | What is the likely take-up of ABS as a structure?

Reports on a survey of 30 large law firms across the country. Survey shows that 56 per cent were considering adopting an ABS.