The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) – British Nigeria Law Forum (BNLF) Legal Services Mission To The United Kingdom: Raising The Standard of Legal Practice In Nigeria

A. OVERVIEW

In furtherance of crystallizing the vision for #ABraveNewBar, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), A. B Mahmoud, OON, SAN, has continued to make giant strides in ensuring tangible delivery on the thematic areas of the NBA Strategic Plan. It is in this regard that the President led a combined delegation of the NBA Executive Committee members, members of the NBA Legal Profession Regulatory Review Committee (LPRRC), members of the British Nigeria Law Forum (BNLF) and members of the NBA Young Lawyers Forum (YLF) on a Legal Services Mission to the United Kingdom from November 29 – December 1, 2017. The theme for this Mission is: ‘A Review of the Regulatory Framework of the Legal

Profession in Nigeria and the United Kingdom’.

The Mission lends further support to the critical legal regulatory work commenced by the LPRRC which was inaugurated on 24th January, 2017 by the NBA President, with the mandate to review the current regulatory framework of the Nigerian legal profession and advise on its suitability to meet international standards and comply with international best practices for a robust, responsive and independent legal profession.

Further to the recommendations made by the LPRRC, the Delegation engaged the relevant British statutory bodies who are directly responsible for designing the regulatory architecture for the legal profession in the United Kingdom, examining the roles of the relevant bodies, scrutinizing current regulations governing legal practice, as well as examining the standards of continuing legal education in the United Kingdom in contradistinction to that which obtains in Nigeria. The Delegates also engaged other regulatory and legislative bodies on other matters of mutual interests and the draft Legal Practitioners’ Bill prepared by the LPRRC; as well as leading international lawyers and law firms on training, business development and Cross border partnerships between Nigerian and the United Kingdom.

The Office of the President of the NBA (OPNBA) in furtherance of updating the NBA on the activities of the President brings herewith, a synopsis of the engagement by the Delegation.

B. FAR REACHING DELIBERATIONS AND ENGAGEMENTS

1.  Roundtable with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

The SRA regulates solicitors of England and Wales, law firms of England and Wales, non-lawyers who can be either managers or employees of firms; and any other types of lawyers, such as registered foreign lawyers (RFLs) and registered European lawyers RELs).

2.  Meeting with the Inns of Court College of Advocacy

The Inns of Court College of Advocacy (formerly the ATC) was established by the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC). The College comprises barristers, judges and others drawn from the Inns, the Circuits, the Bar Council of England and Wales, Specialist Bar Associations and other representative organisations. Its main functions are to provide leadership, guidance and coordination in relation to the pursuit of excellence in advocacy.

3.  Meeting with the Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR)-Africa Committee 

COMBAR is the Specialist Bar Association for commercial barristers advising the international business community.

4.  Roundtable Discussion with the Law Society of England and Wales

The Law Society is the representative body for Solicitors qualified to practice in England and Wales. TLS aims to represent, promote and support all solicitors, to enable them support their clients and promote England and Wales as the jurisdiction of choice due to the vital role legal services play in the economy. TLS also works internationally to open up markets for its members and to defend human rights while supporting its members with opportunities in the domestic market.

5.  NBA-BNLF Symposium Hosted by Stephenson Harwood LLP.

Engagement with leading international lawyers and law firms in discussing cross border practice and exploring the potentials in areas of trainings, business development and networking opportunities between Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Discussions also included – How to build a successful practice and reach your potential in the UK or Nigeria, comparing and contrasting the experience of lawyers in both jurisdictions, advantages and disadvantages of practice in UK or Nigeria, tips for success and career progression.

6.  Meeting with the Bar Standards Board (BSB)

The Bar Standards Board regulates barristers, their professional practice and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. They are responsible for: setting the education and training requirements for becoming a barrister, setting continuing training requirements to ensure that barristers’ skills are maintained throughout their careers, setting standards of conduct for barristers, authorizing organisations that focus on advocacy, litigation, and specialist legal advice; monitoring the services provided by barristers, handling complaints against barristers and taking disciplinary or other action where appropriate.

C.  CONCLUSION

The advancement of the legal profession in Nigeria beyond its present state is at the heart of the NBA Strategic Plan and the present Administration led by A. B. Mahmoud, OON, SAN.

In conclusion, the following action plans are take-away from this Mission:

An updated report on the regulatory framework for the legal profession in Nigeria will be developed by the Legal Profession Regulation Review Committee (LPRRC) for implementation by the NBA;

An improved draft and legislative advocacy strategy for the Legal Practitioners bill will be sponsored by the NBA;

Partnerships between the Nigerian Bar Association and the statutory bodies of the United Kingdom for the Legal Profession on the development of standard mechanism for the legal profession in Nigeria will be developed;

Partnerships between the NBA and law firms in the United Kingdom in the areas of training, business development and networking opportunities for Nigerian lawyers would be harnessed; and this would lead to the introduction of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Secondment Programme for outstanding Young lawyers for a brief period of three months beginning from 2018.

Participants at the legal services mission include; members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), members of the British Nigeria Law Forum (BNLF), members of NBA Legal Profession Regulations Review Committee (LPRRC) and members of the NBA Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF).

Others are representatives of statutory bodies of Legal Profession in Nigeria, the Body of Benchers, the Council of Legal Education (CLE), the Nigerian Law School, the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and legal matters as well as representatives of selected Nigerian Law Firms.