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.”


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