The Supreme Court, on Monday, explained how it shares the practising fees paid by Nigerian lawyers with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
The court, in a statement, explained that while it takes one-tenth of the proceeds of the fees paid by lawyers at the end of the year, the larger chunk of nine-tenth of the money is given to the NBA.
“For the purpose of clarity, the procedure for collecting this fee has been that every year, between 1st January to 31st March, lawyers pay the annual National Bar Practicing fee in line with extant Legal Practicing Fee, as specified in the LPA 2004.
“Accordingly, at the end of each year, the NBA takes a sum equal to nine-tenth (being 9/10) of the aggregate amount of the fees received and the Supreme Court, on the other hand, is given one-tenth (being 1/10) of the aggregate amount of the practicing fees received, which it now pays into the Treasury Single Account, domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, as revenue generated by the court,” the statement signed by the Director of Press and Information of the Supreme Court, Festus Akande, read in part.
New payment system
The statement also confirmed the authenticity of the new mode of payment of practising fees recently introduced by the NBA.
The NBA had in a circular directed lawyers in the country to pay the statutory annual bar practising fees via an online payment portal called ‘Paystack’.
This has, however, generated controversies among lawyers on the proprietary or otherwise of the new payment system.
Reacting to the development, the Supreme Court, confirmed the authenticity of the new payment system and explained further how the proceeds of the payment are shared.
“The Supreme Court of Nigeria has meticulously investigated this new development and equally had incisive discussions with the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association, with a view to ascertaining the propriety or otherwise of the directive.
“From our findings, the new payment plan via the online portal is authentic and equally done in good faith, ostensibly with the sole aim of operating within the ambit of the new global information and communication technology order,” the statement issued on behalf of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hajo Sarki-Bello, read in part.
It added, “However, those interested in manual payment also have the choice of doing it at any branch of our designated banks, as was previously done.”
Chief Registrar remains co-signatory
The statement also explained that the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court remains a co-signatory to the account of the bar practising fees, citing section 2 of the Legal Practitioner Act.
“With the explanations given by the leadership of the NBA, their action has not, in any way, contravened the Legal Practitioners Act 2004, which explicitly confers such role and function on the Chief Registrar of the Court.
“The subsisting mode of payment makes the Chief Registrar and NBA President co-signatories to the Supreme Court’s Bar Practicing Fees (BPF) account into which the fee is paid annually by all lawyers in Nigeria,” the statement said.
The Chief Registrar is also to be the issuer of receipt to lawyers paying the practising fees, the statement said.
“Section 8 of the Legal Practitioners Act, Chapter L11 LFN 2004, made provision for payment and collection of the National Bar Practicing Fees. For the sake of clarity, Section 8 (2) comes handy:
“No legal practitioner (other than such a person as is mentioned in subsection (3) of section 2 of this Act) shall be accorded the right of audience in any court in Nigeria in any year, unless he has paid to the Registrar in respect of that year, practicing fees as may be prescribed from time to time in accordance with the provisions of this section.”
“The Registrar shall issue to every person by whom a practicing fee is paid in respect of any year a receipt for the fee in the prescribed form.”
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