Insights, International Trade

Entitlement to Practice as Legal Practitioner in Nigeria: A Closer Look at the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) Agreement Between Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK)

Introduction

The recent announcement of the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) surfaced when the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) formalized an agreement with the United Kingdom (UK) to allow British lawyers to practice law within Nigerian jurisdiction. This purported milestone was achieved through the execution of the ETIP agreement in February 2024, marking a pivotal moment in Nigeria’s legal landscape. According to reports, the UK government disclosed that the ETIP extends beyond facilitating lawyers’ mobility; it aims to bolster trade and investment opportunities for both UK and Nigerian businesses. Lawyard’s report further highlighted the UK government’s disclosure that the ETIP commits Nigeria to eliminate barriers hindering UK lawyers from practicing international and foreign law within Nigeria, potentially amplifying UK legal services exports.

 

However, this development ignited a torrent of debates and objections from various quarters, notably the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), whose President, Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, expressed dismay over the lack of consultation preceding the ETIP decision. Maikyau, SAN highlighted its adverse impact on the welfare and livelihood of millions of Nigerians, along with concerns regarding compromise in Nigeria’s legal practice. Subsequently, the Vanguard Newspaper reported on 15th February 2024, that the FGN retracted its earlier statement regarding the legal aspect –the entitlement of UK lawyers to practice in Nigeria – of the ETIP.

Despite the FGN’s retraction, this article seeks to delve into the legality and potential implementation of the ETIP agreement in Nigeria. It will scrutinize the alleged authorization of UK lawyers to practice law within Nigeria’s territorial jurisdiction, shedding light on pertinent legal considerations.

Restriction of Foreign Lawyers From Practicing Law In Nigeria Without Being Licensed, Authorized or Permitted

In Nigeria, the legal profession is highly esteemed, regulated and recognized as essential to the country’s economic and socio-political governance. Comprising trained, qualified, and licensed individuals, lawyers play…

 

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