The news that Nigeria has entered a trade deal with the Uk and part of the deal will allow UK lawyers offer legal services in Nigeria led to an uproar in the legal community in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Bar Association has also released a statement challenging the legality of such clause in the trade deal.

Stakeholders in the UK are responding to the spontaneous rejection by the Nigerian legal community and some of the Comments gathered by Courtroom Mail are as follows:

Law Society president Nick Emmerson pointed out that the trade agreement contains no binding provisions to liberalise the practice rights of UK qualified lawyers in Nigeria. ‘Our understanding is that the agreement is aspirational and provides a forum for UK and Nigerian legal stakeholders to pursue a constructive dialogue on areas of mutual interest, including knowledge sharing and supporting one another on international practice of law issues.’

Emmerson added: ‘The UK and Nigerian legal communities have long enjoyed strong bilateral relations which in turn benefit their clients and trade between the two countries. The Law Society works closely with the Nigerian Bar Association to enhance these bilateral relations and share best practice. We hope to continue our close engagement with the NBA and legal profession both within and outside the ETIP framework.’

Anonymous from the Law Society Gazzette
“No independent nation will enter any trade agreement with another nation without consulting its stakeholders. The problem in this ETIP with Nigeria is viewed by Nigerians as the usual colonial Britain vs unaccountable Nigeria politicians. The Nigeria Bar Association clearly wasn’t consulted but that isn’t the worry of Nigeria government. As long as the colonial masters get what they want and in turn protect their servant politicians then all is good. The cash cow which is Nigeria will continue to deliver. The UK shouldn’t worry about the threat of the NBA going to the Nigerian Supreme Court. The Nigeria government is control of their court decisions and the court would fall in line. In the end the masses are the losers.”

Alison Hook

‘It is entirely predictable and unsurprising,’ said Alison Hook, founder of specialist consultancy Hook Tangaza. ‘No one from inside the NBA or those involved with the regulation of cross border practice in Nigeria has ever given the impression that they were ready to seriously entertain foreign lawyers having greater rights to practice in Nigeria – rather there is first a lot of work to be done on how Nigerian lawyers themselves should be regulated and the regime modernised. I don’t detect any readiness in the Nigerian profession generally to embrace foreign lawyers yet.’

Anonymous comment from the Gazzette

“I acted some years ago for a company which was negotiating an agreement with a Nigerian company. There was a discussion about the jurisdiction clause, the other side wanted the Nigerian courts to decide any dispute. The chairman of my client company said he was happy for the Nigerian courts to hear any dispute – because he would pay the judge a bigger bribe than the Nigerian company. OK, things have changed and it is no longer legal for a UK company to pay a bribe anywhere in the world, but I can see why Nigerian lawyers don’t want English lawyers treading on their patch.”

Howard Shelley

No government has ever entered into an agreement which is outside its power according to its national constitutional arrangements Jeffrey? You have a far greater confidence in the inclination of politicians to comply with the law than have I my friend. My view is that politicians take the view that the law is an inconvenience and that it only applies to other people.

Of course whether the NBA are have a legal point or are engaging in outright protectionism remains to be seen”


“If two countries enter into an agreement, and leaving-aside whether ‘international law’ is binding at all, surely neither country’s lawyers have power to annul it.”

Robert Mcleod
“Every profession is a conspiracy against the populace – and this seems particularly true in Nigeria.”

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