Government reverses stance, clarifies UK lawyers cannot practice in Nigeria

Government reverses stance, clarifies UK lawyers cannot practice in Nigeria

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The Federal Government has revised its position on the legal dimensions of the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership inked with the United Kingdom this week.

This shift comes in response to public backlash from Nigerians who perceived the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the UK as biased.

Doris Uzoka-Anite, Nigeria’s Minister for Trade and Investment, took to X platform to retract her previous remarks, stressing that there exists no legal agreement between Nigeria and the UK allowing UK-licensed lawyers to practice in Nigeria.

In her statement, she clarified, “Earlier today, Nigeria entered into an extensive MoU with the United Kingdom for Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership. Unfortunately, our earlier communication mistakenly implied that Nigeria had entered into an agreement permitting UK lawyers to practice in Nigeria.”

She continued, “We want to firmly state that no such provision or agreement exists within the MoU.” The minister underscored that Nigeria lacks a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the UK and has not made any commitment, under the MoU or elsewhere, to enable UK-licensed lawyers to practice in Nigeria.

“As things stand, foreign licensed lawyers, including those from the UK, are not authorized to practice in Nigeria, as explicitly stated in the MoU,” she affirmed.

Acknowledging ongoing discussions among relevant stakeholders in Nigeria’s legal community regarding cross-jurisdictional practice with the UK, she highlighted that this dialogue was reflected in the MoU.

Earlier reports from the UK’s Department of Business and Trade and a tweet from Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment had indicated that Nigeria was entering into an agreement to eliminate barriers preventing UK lawyers from practicing international law in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Bar Association criticized the purported agreement, denouncing the statement attributed to the minister as “absurd, unpatriotic, and uninformed.”

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