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UK lawyers can’t practise in Nigeria – FG

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By Abiodun Okunloye

NBA criticised the purported agreement between the country and the UK.

Nigeria’s federal government has promptly addressed concerns raised by its citizens regarding the Exclusive Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) deal with the United Kingdom. The government clarified multiple aspects of the agreement soon after allegations of signing a one-sided memorandum of understanding (MOU) were levelled against them. Minister Doris Uzoka-Anite of Trade and Investment earlier shared a tweet on Tuesday to reveal Nigeria’s commitment to signing the agreement, which will remove any obstacles that prevent UK attorneys from engaging in international law practice within Nigeria.

This statement was also made by the UK Department of Business and Trade. Nonetheless, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) strongly criticised the purported agreement, considering the minister’s remarks to be absurd, disloyal, and unenlightened. This contention later made Uzoka-Anite to retract her earlier statement, clarifying that there was no legal agreement between the country and the UK in a tweet on X. She proceeded to express that experts from various industries had thoroughly contemplated and bargained for the accord.

Both countries to forge a robust pact for enhanced investment partnership.

According to the new statement from her tweet, she explained the MOU further that Nigeria and the United Kingdom have formed and forged a substantial and extensive agreement, laying the groundwork for an Enhanced Investment Partnership in the country. This partnership holds immense potential and is significant for fostering accelerated growth in trade relations between the two nations. Meticulously crafted and skilfully negotiated by Nigerian professionals from diverse sectors, it is a testament to their strategic vision and dedication.

Various aspects of shared business concerns were addressed, encompassing domains such as finance, trade impediments, healthcare, investments, streamlining customs procedures, promoting trade, agriculture, intellectual property, creative sectors, and legal support services, to mention a few. Unfortunately, the previous statement falsely implies that Nigeria has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) permitting UK-licensed lawyers to practice within the country. She added that it is important to emphasise that there is no provision or agreement of such nature within the existing MOU.

Talks ongoing on cross-border practice between Nigeria and UK.

The Nigerian minister restated that there is no Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between Nigeria and the UK. Therefore nothing binds Nigeria to grant permission for UK-licensed lawyers to practice within its borders. Additionally, the MOU clearly indicates that foreign-licensed lawyers, including those licensed in the United Kingdom, are prohibited from engaging in legal practice in Nigeria. She acknowledges that the discussion regarding the possibility of cross-jurisdictional practice between Nigeria and the United Kingdom is still ongoing within the Nigerian legal community, and this sentiment is reflected in the content of the MOU.

On the other hand, the presence of UK lawyers practising in Nigeria can significantly impact the country’s economy. These lawyers bring with them valuable skills, knowledge, and experience, thereby contributing to the transfer of expertise to local lawyers. Moreover, the availability of experienced UK lawyers may attract foreign investors seeking legal support, leading to increased foreign direct investment. This can generate employment opportunities, expand legal service sectors, and improve legal standards and regulations. It will positively influence the country’s economic growth and development.

Related Article: Nigerian lawyers’ japa’ for greener pastures

Moreover, there are several advantages for UK lawyers who choose to practice in Nigeria. Firstly, it allows them to expand their practice and gain exposure to a new legal system. Also, Nigeria offers a large legal market with a growing economy, providing ample opportunities for UK lawyers to secure clients and engage in high-profile cases. Practising in Nigeria also facilitates networking with local professionals, opening doors for future collaborations. The cultural exchange and personal and professional growth opportunities presented in Nigeria can enhance cross-cultural communication skills and broaden legal strategies.

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NBA: Website

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