Justice Minister Abubakar Malami on Monday, inaugurated the Legal Practitioner’s Remuneration Committee to look into the remuneration of lawyers in the country.
Malami, while inaugurating the reconstituted committee in Abuja said, finding a reasonable remuneration for legal services in Nigeria has been an issue of great controversy for legal practitioners.
”It has and is still eliciting heated intellectual and non-intellectual debates by various countervailing interests.
“Over the years, finding a reasonable remuneration for legal services has been an issue of great controversy for legal professionals. It has, and is still eliciting heated intellectual and non-intellectual debates by various countervailing interests.
“Some have argued that a lawyer’s fees cannot, and should not be pigeonholed to a scale of charges due to the unique nature of the legal profession: while others who canvass for its continued existence say it has created order and certainty in the expected remuneration for legal services’’.
He said the Legal Practitioners Act established the Legal Practitioners Remuneration Committee to amongst other things, regulate and standardise the remuneration of legal practitioners in Nigeria.
“By virtue of Section 15 of the Legal Practitioners Act, the committee is made up of Attorneys-General of the Federation and the States, NBA President and three other members of NBA.
“It is pursuant to the above statutory provisions, that the committee enacted the Legal Practitioners Remuneration for Legal Documentation and Other Land Matters Order in 1991.
“This Order created three classes of scales that can be used in charging, depending on the nature of legal services rendered’’.
The AGF noted that in view of the current national and economic realities, it was clear that the scale of charges hitherto established were long overdue for review.
“A situation where legal practitioners are paid pittance for the legal services they render must be thoroughly looked into and necessary steps taken to not only safeguard the livelihood of lawyers, but ensure that legal practitioners are treated with the dignity and prestige they deserve.
“The committee therefore has the responsibility to critically review the scale of charges, taking into consideration prevailing challenges and experiences by legal practitioners as well as the nation’s current economic realities.
“In carrying out its functions, I want to admonish the committee to be fair and to discharge its statutory responsibilities without fear or favour.
“Particular consideration should be given to the new wigs and young lawyers, as a way to encourage their dedication and commitment to justice delivery’’.
He said that the ministry of justice is poised to continue to fulfil its overarching mandate of improving the administration of justice in Nigeria.
“This is done by providing the necessary support to the NBA and ensuring that our dear association is well positioned to address the legal needs of legal practitioners and Nigerians as a whole’’.
The Chairman, body of the Attorney Generals of the Federation (AGF) Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, said the inauguration would be described as a building process for legal practitioners for the regulation of charges in the profession.
Onigbanjo, who is also the Attorney General of Lagos State commended the Malami for reinitiating the process, saying it was a good step in the right direction.
Also speaking, the NBA Yakubu Maikyau, SAN said the move is apt as it is an aspect of the law that has remained dormant.
“We know that there are challenges but with this programme, we would be able to strengthen our relationships’’.