‘NBA Maintains that the RPC has Not been Amended’– NBA President Olumide Akpata

I have seen and read Statutory Instrument No. 15 of 2020 (the “Instrument”),
making the rounds on social media and which purports to amend certain
provisions of the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (RPC).
Since the Instrument was released, I have received numerous calls and messages
from lawyers across the country seeking clarification and guidance on the purport
of the Instrument.

By virtue of the Instrument, the following provisions of the RPC are to be deemed
a) Rule 9(2), which relates to default in payment of practicing fees;
b) Rule 10, which relates to stamp and seal for legal practitioners;
c) Rule 11, which relates to mandatory continuing professional development;
d) Rule 12, which relates to the Annual Practicing Certificate for legal
practitioners; and
e) Rule 13, which relates to the obligation to give notice of the commencement
of legal practice to the branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”)
responsible for the jurisdiction in which the practice is located.

The explanatory note to the Instrument suggests that it was done to bring the RPC
into conformity with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act, the Law Officers
Act, and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

For the avoidance of doubt, the Legal Practitioners Act (as amended) confers
the power to issue rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners, and any
amendments thereto, on the General Council of the Bar (the “Bar Council”). The
Bar Council comprises the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation
(“HAGF”), the Honourable Attorneys-General of the thirty-six states of Nigeria, and twenty members of the NBA.

Consequently, the RPC and any amendments
thereto may only be validly issued after it has been deliberated upon and
approved at a properly convened meeting of the Bar Council.

As far as the NBA is aware, no notice convening a meeting of the Bar Council was issued to its elected representatives on the Bar Council and no meeting of the Bar
Council was convened and/or held to deliberate on the Instrument.

To that extent, our position is that no authority or approval was given for the amendment of the RPC.

Consequently, the NBA maintains that the RPC has not been amended and enjoins all legal practitioners to remain calm and continue to conduct their affairs in the same manner as they did prior to the issuance of the Instrument.

Let me assure our members that I am engaging closely with the HAGF on this issue
and will provide further updates on our next steps in the coming days.

Indeed, as part of the commitment of the current administration of the NBA towards the welfare and capacity building of members and the overall improvement of the Bar, we intend to propose certain amendments to the RPC that will be critical to the attainment of those objectives.

However, in doing this, we will ensure to carry our members along with a view to getting their buy-in as critical stakeholders.

Olumide Akpata
President, Nigerian Bar Association
13th September 2020

1 comment

  1. Gladius O. Erakpotobor, Esq.

    The HAGF have no power and authority to unilaterally and surreptitiously amend the RPC under any law in Nigeria therefore, the purported amendment of the RPC by the HAGF is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional null and void and of no effect. Same is an affront to the Bar, NBA and to the legal profession and the welfare of lawyers in general thus it is dead on arrival and should be jettison. It cannot stand.
    What we need now is an amendment that will promote the integrity of the legal profession and welfare of lawyers and not the one such as this by the HAGF that are calculated to bring down the Noble profession which we all cherish so much and proud to belong.
    I submit therefore, that anyone who have the interest of the legal profession at heart (NBA) will never dream of or contemplate such purported amendment by the HAGF as such is malicious and politically vindictive to the NBA.
    The NBA must be united against injustice in whatever form it appear.
    By Gladius O. Erakpotobor, Esq.

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