In a landmark decision, Justice Gladys Olotu of the Federal High Court Abuja has given the green light for the formation of a distinct association for Nigerian lawyers, separate from the existing Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
Justice Olotu, in her judgment, mandated the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to register the new association under one of the three proposed names provided by its promoters: ‘The Nigerian Law Society,’ ‘Nigerian Bar Society,’ and ‘Nigerian Lawyers’ Society,’ as well as ‘The Association of Legal Practitioners of Nigeria.’
The court criticized the previous refusal by the CAC to register any of the proposed names, emphasizing the need for fair consideration. The decision comes after a legal battle initiated by a group of lawyers, led by Kunle Ogunba, who unveiled plans for the creation of the Law Society of Nigeria (LSN) in December 2022.
The CAC, in its defense against the substantive suit, argued that the proposed names were too similar to the NBA’s, raising concerns about potential confusion. Additionally, it contended that the plaintiffs lacked the necessary geographic spread and national representation.
This court ruling marks a pivotal moment in the legal landscape, allowing for the establishment of a new professional body for lawyers in Nigeria.