A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to allow lawyers maintain payment of the old practising fees, pending the determination of a substantive suit before the court.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia gave the order in her ruling in a suit filed by five lawyers against the NBA, over increase in the practising fees for lawyers in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the suit was filed by Messrs Seth Amaefule, Celestine Nwankwo, Charles Ola-Oni, Tayo Arojo and Miss Amaka Aneke.
The NBA and its President, Okey Wali, are defendants in the suit, along with the Registered Trustees of the NBA.
Also joined as defendants are the General Council of the Bar, Attorney-General of the Federation, Chairmen of the Lagos and Ikeja branch of NBA, Mr Taiwo Taiwo and Mr Onyekachi Ubani.
Ofili-Ajumogobia ordered that lawyers be allowed to maintain payment of the old practising fees until the substantive suit before the court is determined.
“The applicants’ motion for injunction is upheld and the respondents are hereby ordered to maintain the old practising fees, pending the final determination of the main suit.
“The matter is adjourned to May 30 for hearing of the substantive suit.”
NAN reports that the plaintiffs had averred that the General Council of the Bar, by a circular dated April 6, 2012, increased the fees for legal practice.
They said that before the increase, lawyers with less than five years’ standing at the bar used to pay N2, 000, while those above five years but less than 10 years paid N4,000 and those above 10 years but less than 15 years paid N7,500.
They added that lawyers above 15 years at the bar paid N10, 000 in the past, while Senior Advocates and benchers paid N20, 000.
The plaintiffs stated that the fees were increased to N10, 000 for lawyers of less than five years at the bar, N20, 000 for those above five years, and N35, 000 for those above 10 years.
The aggrieved lawyers stated that with the increase, lawyers above 15 years at the bar were expected to pay N50,000, while Senior Advocates and benchers would pay N100,000.