Classes of persons Entitled to practise as Legal Practitioners in Nigeria

Under the Legal Practitioners Act, 1962 contained in CAP L.11, Volume 8, LFN, 2004 three classes of persons are entitled to practise as Legal Practitioners in Nigeria:

1)   Those entitled to practice generally.
2)   Those entitled to practice for the purpose of any particular office.
3) Those entitled to practice for the purpose of any particular proceeding.  Section 24 of the LPA.

1.      THOSE ENTITLED TO PRACTICE GENERALLY

Section 2(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA) provides that:

a.             A person shall be entitled to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor if, and only if, his name is on the Roll.
Section 7(1) of LPA provides that a person shall be entitled to have his name enrolled if, and only if –
b.        He produces a certificate of his call to bar to the Registrar of the Supreme Court.  Section 4(1) of the LPA, as amended by Decree 9 of 1992, provides that a person shall be entitled to be called to Bar if:

i)     He is a citizen of Nigeria.
ii)    He produces a qualifying certificate to the Benchers.
iii)  He satisfies the Benchers that he is of good character.

Note that Section 4(2) of the LPA as amended by Decree 9 of 1992 further provides that a person may also be entitled to be called to Bar even if he is a non-citizen of Nigeria, provided he has the qualifying certificate and is of good character. 
Section 4(4) of the LPA provides that the Body of Benchers shall issue to every person called to Bar, a certificate of Call to bar, which shall be in such form as the Benchers may determine.

Section 5(1) of the Legal Education Act provides that a person shall be entitled to have a qualifying certificate issued to him by the Council stating that he is qualified to be called to the Bar if:

1.   He is a citizen of Nigeria.
2.   He has successfully completed a course of practical training at the Law School for an academic year except where the Council otherwise directs.

Please note that Section 5(2) of the Legal Education Act as amended by Decree No. 8 of 1992 however provides that a person may be entitled to have a qualifying certificate issued to him even if he is a non-citizen of Nigeria.

Attendance at the Law School as well as Law Office and Court Attachment is mandatory. 
A student who fails to satisfy the minimum attendance may not be allowed to sit for the examinations or may be asked to withdraw.  Also note that attendance is on full-time basis.

EXEMPTION FROM THE NIGERIAN LAW SCHOOL COURSE
         The Council of Legal Education is empowered to exempt a person from attendance at the Law School before issuing of a qualifying certificate.  See Section 5(1)(b) and 5(2)(b) of the Legal Education Act. 
However, it is only in exceptional circumstances that the Council will exercise this power under the Professional Bodies (Special Professions) Act, 1972 and the Professional Bodies (Legal Provision) Exemption Order, 1973.

There are two kinds of exemptions, full exemption and partial exemption:
FULL EXEMPTION entails exemption from both Bar Part 1 and Bar Final while THE PARTIAL EXEMPTION entails exemption from only Bar Part 1.





CRITERIA FOR FULL EXEMPTION
         A person who satisfies the following conditions may be exempted on application from attending the course at the Law School:

1)   If he is a Nigerian citizen.
2)   If he is qualified to be admitted at the Law School.
3)   If his qualifying subjects for admission to the Law School include all the core subjects prescribed by Council of Legal Education.
4)   If at the time he qualified to attend the Law School or a reasonable time thereafter, he lost the opportunity of doing so for reasons beyond his control. 
See the Legal Notice No. 439 of 5th July 1989.

CRITERIA FOR PARTIAL EXEMPTION FOR
NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY TEACHERS
1.   Graduates from Common Law jurisdiction who have been teaching law for five years and above in a Faculty of Law in a Nigerian University can be exempted, and
2.   Graduates from Common Law jurisdictions that have taught Law in a Faculty of Law in a Nigerian university for 10 years and above can be exempted from Bar Part 1 and can then proceed to Bar Part 2. 
See Legal Notice No. 446 of the 3rd of August 1989.

2.           THOSE ENTITLED TO PRACTICE BY VIRTUE OF OFFICE
         Section 2(3) of the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA) provides as follows:

A person for the time being exercising the functions of any of the following offices, that is to say –

a.    The Office of the Attorney General,
b.    Solicitor General or
c.    Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation or of a State;
d.    Such offices in the Civil Service of the Federation or of a State as the Attorney General of the Federation or of the State, as the case may be, may by order specify,
shall be entitled to practise as a Barrister and Solicitor for purposes of that office.

         The offices so specified to practise by the (Entitlement to Practise as Barristers and Solicitors) Federal Officers Order of 1992 include:

1.   Law Officers in the Ministry of Justice viz:

i)     Directors;
ii)    Deputy Directors;
iii)  Assistant Directors;
iv)  Chief Legal Officers;
v)   Assistant Chief Legal Officers;
vi)  Principal Legal Officers;
vii)Senior Legal Officers;
viii)       Legal Officers; and
viii)        Pupil Legal Officers.

Others who may practise under Section 2(3) include:

·      Law Officers in the Legal Services Department of the National Assembly Office, Federal Road Safety Commission et cetera.
·      In fact, Law Officers in the various parastatals can also practise.

3.      THOSE ENTITLED TO PRACTISE IN PARTICULAR PROCEEDINGS BY WARRANT

Section 2(2) of the LPA provides that upon application to the Chief Justice by or on behalf of any person appearing to the Chief Justice to be entitled to practise as an advocate in any country where the legal system is similar to that of Nigeria, and the Chief Justice is of the opinion that it is expedient to permit that person to practise as a Barrister for the purpose of proceedings described in the application, the Chief Justice may by warrant under his hand authorise that person on payment to the Registrar of such fee not exceeding N50 as may be specified in the warrant to practise as a Barrister for the purposes of those proceedings and of any appeal brought in connection with those proceedings. 
 AWOLOWO V. USMAN SARKI, MINISTER OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS (1962) LLR 177; (1966) NSCC 209.  In that case there was an application for a Counsel in England to come and represent Awolowo and he was refused entry.




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