The practice fee is too exorbitant, the lawyers say.
Five lawyers on Monday instituted a suit against the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Okey Wali, over alleged increase in lawyers’ practicing fee.
The plaintiffs are Seth Amaefule, Amaka Aneke, Celestine Nwankwo, Charles Ola-Oni and Tayo Arojo.
The Registered Trustees of the NBA; General Council of the Bar; Attorney-General of the Federation; and Chairmen, Lagos and Ikeja Branches of the NBA, Messrs Taiwo Taiwo and Onyekachi Ubani respectively are co-defendants.
In a motion ex-parte filed and argued on their behalf by their counsel, Tunji Gomez, the plaintiffs sought an order to restrain the defendants from collecting the increased fee.
They claimed that the fee was imposed on lawyers.
The plaintiffs averred that although the Legal Practitioners’ Act provided that lawyers should pay a practising fee between January 1 and March 31 annually, the General Council of the Bar increased the fee on April 6, 2012.
They said that before the review, lawyers of less than five years at the bar paid N2,000, while those above five years but less than 10 years paid N4,000.
The plaintiff stated that lawyers above 10 years but less than 15 years paid N7,500, those above 15 years, N10,000 while Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, and members of the Body of Benchers paid N20,000.
They said that the General Council of the Bar increased the fee as follows: lawyers of less than five years at the bar, N10, 000; those above five years but less than 10 years, N20,000; those above 10 years but less than 15 years, N35,000; those above 15 years, N50,000; and SANs and members of the Body of Benchers, N100,000.
They described the fee as exorbitant and beyond the reach of many lawyers.
Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia ordered the plaintiffs to notify the defendants of the motion.
She held that it would be just to hear the defendants’ side of the story instead of determining the case ex-parte.
The judge adjourned the case to March 4.