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Malami lacks power to amend lawyers’ rules of professional conduct —NBA

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The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, said on Sunday the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) for lawyers remained unchanged.

Akpata was reacting to a gazette which emanated from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), on the amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) for Legal Practitioners 2007 especially on the requirement of STAMP AND SEAL for lawyers.

The gazette —marked S.I N0.15 of 2020 allegedly issued by the AGF and dated September 3, 2020, reads: “In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act Cap L11, LFN 2004, and of all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I, Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and President, General Council of the Bar, make the following rules:

“The Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 is amended by deleting the following rules, namely: 9(2), 10, 11, 12, and 13.

“These rules may be cited as the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules, 2020.”

The news of the gazette left many lawyers wondering where the AGF got the powers to make such amendments.

However, in a statement, the NBA president said Malami lacked the power to single-handedly amend the 2007 RPC for lawyers.

He added that the decision to amend the Legal Professional Conduct (LPC) can only be taken by the General Council of the Bar.

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Akpata urged all lawyers to remain calm and continue to conduct their affairs in the same manner as they did prior to the notice of the gazette on the amendment.

The NBA president also promised to engage the AGF on the matter.

He said: “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 36 states of Nigeria, and 20 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.”

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