Apata makes case for committee on cross-border legal services
He was speaking at the ongoing 59th Annual General Conference of the NBA, which was chaired by the formal president of the association, Mr. Augustine Alegeh.
Apata said a new legal regime was emerging with the spread of new technology.
He added, “Trade in services between states and citizens across borders is not uncommon. However, the introduction of digital trade has changed the nature and operation of trade in services by reducing the relevance of traditional at-the-border barriers to trade like tariffs and licenses.”
The solicitor-general, therefore, charged the NBA to set up a committee to review the Legal Professional Act.
His words, “In view of this, there is a need for regulatory mechanisms and domestic policy regulating trade in digital legal services in Nigeria. We shall see later if the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) by Nigeria will help the quest.
“Currently, the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA) is the chief legislation that provides the requirement for licensing a person, whether foreign or not, as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. It provides that such a person must be called to the bar to be able to practise.”
“The only exception to that is provided by Section 2(2) of the LPA, which empowers the chief judge to grant a person warrant for purposes of specified proceedings and appeal brought under such proceedings.”
He, therefore, suggested constant sensitisation of lawyers to the inevitability of the globalisation of the legal service and encourage them to adopt a positive attitude and take benefit of trends.
In the amendment of the LPA to adopt some modes of supply of legal services, the rules of professional conduct should be streamlined to encourage cross-border collaboration among firms.
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