Practising fee controversy: Court adjourns lawyers’ suit against NBA

The lawyers are challenging the increase in practicing fee by the NBA.

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday adjourned indefinitely hearing in a suit by some lawyers challenging the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, over a raise in practising fees for lawyers in the country.

The plaintiffs are Seth Amaefule, Amaka Aneke, Celestine Nwankwo, Charles Ola-Oni, and Tayo Arojo.

The plaintiffs are seeking an order restraining the NBA from implementing the new fees which they described as too exorbitant.

Joined in the suit as defendants are the NBA President, Okey Wali, General Council of the Bar and Attorney General of the Federation.

Others are Taiwo Taiwo, the Chairman, NBA, Lagos Branch; and Onyekachi Ubani, the Chairman of Ikeja Branch.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, Olutola Adepoju, the counsel representing the first to fourth defendants, informed the court that they had withdrawn their motion for stay of an interlocutory order granted by the court.

She said the withdrawal was as a result of the motion which she noted had been overtaken by events.

“It is already overtaken by events since an appeal had already been filed, argued, and judgment reserved.’’

Ms. Adepoju urged the court to grant an adjournment to abide with the decision of the Court of Appeal.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Tunji Gomez, did not object to the adjournment, but informed the court that he had not been served with the defendants’ statement of defence.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, in a short ruling, adjourned the matter indefinitely.

“This matter is adjourned sine die to abide with the decision of the Court of Appeal,’’ she ruled.

The judge, however, ordered the defendants to furnish the plaintiffs with its statement of defence.

The plaintiffs had filed the suit on February 18, 2013, challenging the hike in lawyers’ practising fees.

In their motion, they averred that the General Council of the Bar had in a circular dated April 6, 2012, made an upward review of the fees for lawyers in the country.

“By the review, lawyers who are less than five years at the bar were to pay N10, 000 as opposed to N2, 000, while those above five years were to pay N20, 000, as opposed to N4, 000.

“Those above 10 years at the bar were now to pay N35, 000, as opposed to N7, 500; those above 15 years were to pay N50, 000 as opposed to N10, 000, while senior advocates are now to pay N100, 000, as against N20, 000.

They argued that a handful of lawyers will suffer hardship if the defendants were allowed to proceed with the collection of the new practising fees.

The plaintiffs, therefore, urged the court to restrain the defendants from implementing the new practising fees.


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