The following provides information on practising in Nigeria.
The Legal System:
The Nigerian legal system is based on English common law modified by Nigerian rulings, the Constitution, customary law, Islamic (Shari’a) law and legislative enactments.
The Legal Profession:
There are approximately 70,000 lawyers practising in Nigeria and a population of around 135,000,000. As a fused profession, a legal practitioner is enrolled in Nigeria both as a Solicitor and Advocate.
Regulation of legal profession:
The Nigerian Bar Association is the professional association for lawyers. Lawyers are automatically admitted to the NBA following satisfaction of the requirements of the members of the Body of Benchers and proficiency in the Bar Final Examination.
The NBA additionally plays a role in the discipline of the legal profession, passed down by the Body of Benchers, to assist in disciplinary matters. Where a lawyer is in breach of the Rules of Professional Conduct a petition is sent to the NBA Disciplinary Unit. If there is a legitimate case to be answered, the case is referred to the Body of Benchers Disciplinary Committee who hear and determine cases of professional misconduct. All appeals from there go to the Supreme Court.
Foreign lawyers are not entitled to practice law under home or other title unless they have also been called to the Nigerian Bar.
Foreign qualified lawyers wishing to requalify in Nigeria must do a one year conversion course at the Nigeria Law School. The Council of Legal Education decides which foreign qualifications to recognise, and they must be from a common law jurisdiction.
The school admits those holding a law degree from an approved university or persons who passed the Legal Practise Course in England & Wales. Students who are admitted into the school with degrees obtained outside Nigeria are required to take and pass the following subjects in the Bar Part 1 examination:
(a) Nigerian Legal system;
(b) Nigerian Land Law;
(c) Nigerian Criminal Law; and
(d) Nigerian Constitutional Law.
Part 1 of the Bar course is designed to introduce foreign-trained students to the general principles of Nigerian Law. This course lasts for 6 months, with the admission process opening in April and closing in June. The programme begins in June. Holders of law degrees from Nigerian universities are exempt from the Bar Part 1 course. Also exempt from the Bar Part 1 are graduates from other common law jurisdictions who have taught law for a minimum of five years in a Nigerian Faculty of Law, and graduates from non-common law countries that have so taught for not less than 10 years. Any candidate seeking admission into the school must show evidence of having passed the following core subjects:
(a) The Law of Contract;
(b) Constitutional Law;
(c) Commercial Law;
(d) Criminal Law;
(e) Equity and Trust;
(g) Land Law; and
(h) Law of Torts.
Bar Part 2 comprises of 20 weeks of lectures and skilled based studies including moot/mock trails and 10 weeks of court and law firm placements. The theoretical aspects of the above courses are not taught in the school, which focuses on the practical aspects of the professional work of a lawyer. The offered subjects in which students are examined in the Bar Part 2 examination are:
(a) Civil Procedure;
(b) Criminal Procedure;
(c) Legal Drafting and Conveyancing;
(d) Commercial Law;
(e) Law and Practice of Evidence;
(f) General Paper, comprising Legal Practitioners’ Accounts, Income Tax Law, Office Management and Professional Ethics.
Persons who have completed the professional training offered by the Nigerian law school are entitled by Section 4 of the Legal Practitioners Act to be formally called to the Nigerian bar and are issued a certificate authorising them to practice law in Nigeria.
Nigeria became a member of the WTO in 1995. Nigeria has not made any commitments to liberalise the legal services sector under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).