Practising fee for Nigerian lawyers: Plaintiffs head for Supreme Court

The plaintiffs say the increase in practising fee will cause hardship on some lawyers.

Five lawyers have headed for the Supreme Court over the increased practising fee lawyers would have to pay.

The plaintiffs are Seth Amaefule, Amaka Aneke, Celestine Nwankwo, Charles Ola-Oni and Tayo Arojo, all members of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA.

They are dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal on the matter.

The respondents are the President of the NBA, Okey Wali, General Council of the Bar, Attorney-General of the Federation, Chairman of the Lagos Branch of NBA, and Chairman of the Ikeja Branch of NBA.

In their notice of appeal, the plaintiffs prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the February 11 decision of the Court of Appeal, which reversed an injunction of a Federal High Court, FHC, Lagos on the case.

A copy of the notice of appeal was made available in Lagos on Tuesday.

The plaintiff had filed the substantive suit before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the FHC on February 18, 2013.

They sought an order restraining the NBA from charging the fee, which they described as too exorbitant.

Ms. Ofili-Ajumogobia had on March 28, 2013 granted an interim order for Nigerian lawyers to pay the old fee, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Not satisfied with the ruling, the defendants filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, while the matter at the lower court was adjourned indefinitely, pending the outcome of the appeal.

The defendant filed the appeal through their Counsel, Tayo Oyetibo.

On February 11, the Court of Appeal set aside the ruling of the FHC on the grounds that it would cause financial constraints on the NBA.

The court also ordered that the case should be re-assigned to a new judge.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the appeal before the Supreme Court.

In the substantive suit, the plaintiffs averred that the General Council of the Bar had by a circular dated April 6, 2012, made an upward review of the annual fee.

According to them, by the review, lawyers who are less than five years at the bar are to pay N10, 000 as opposed to N2,000 previously paid, while those above five years are to pay N20, 000 instead of N4,000.

Those above 10 years at the bar will now pay N35, 000 as opposed to N7,500; those above 15 years will pay N50, 000 instead of N10,000, while Senior Advocates of Nigeria will pay N100,000 instead of N20,000.

They argued that some lawyers would suffer hardship if they must pay the new fee.


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