Some lawyers at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Tuesday expressed concern on the challenges they encountered in obtaining the Nigeria Bar Association’s (NBA) stamp and seal.
The NBA introduced the stamp and seal to be affixed on all the documents filed in courts by lawyers throughout the federation.
The Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007, empowers the NBA to issue the stamp and seal and ensure compliance accordingly to all lawyers called to the Nigerian Bar.
Some of the lawyers on Tuesday expressed concerns on the challenges they were facing in obtaining the stamp and seal.
Mr Shaka Awaliene, a legal practitioner, applauded the policy, but noted that like any new policy it had its own initial challenges.
Awaliene, however, said these challenges had far reaching implications and might slow down the process of legal practice for a while.
“This is a new policy and it would take some time for every lawyer to key into it and what this means is that any lawyer without the seal will not file any process in court.
“Secondly, it has a monetary implication the national dues must be paid as well as the branch dues before the seal is paid for and obtained.
“With the harsh economic situation private legal practitioners are facing, this may constitute a problem for them,’’ he said.
The lawyer said that the new seal policy was one of the measures that could reduce the incidences of fake lawyers in the country.
He said the policy would strengthen legal practice and bring about professionalism as only genuine lawyers would likely engage in legal practice.
Awaliene also advised that the policy needed to be extended to corporate practice, particularly with the Corporate Affairs Commission as accountants and chartered secretaries.
Another lawyer, Christie Nwaka, complained of the time it took before the seal and stamp could be issued after the requisite payments had been made.
“When you apply for the seal it is not issued immediately, it takes a minimum of three weeks to be issued and that keeps on hold whatever process the lawyer wants to file.
“For the new lawyers, it is also a big challenge because they are yet to get started and will need some money to satisfy the financial requirement.
“It appears that adequate arrangements were not put in place before the commencement of the scheme,’’ she said.
Mr Dan Nwobodo, former NBA Publicity Secretary, Abuja branch, noted that people found it difficult to switch over to any new policy.
“In this case, the policy is to sanitise legal practice and should be embraced by any well meaning lawyer.
“The Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners Section 10 (1-2) provides that a lawyer acting in his capacity as a legal practitioner, legal officer or adviser of any government; Department or ministry or any corporation, shall not sign or file a legal document unless a seal and stamp approved by the NBA is affixed on such document.
“For the purpose of this rule, legal documents shall include, pleadings, affidavits, depositions, applications, instruments, agreements, deeds, letters, memoranda, reports, legal opinions or any similar documents,” he said.
He said once you paid the Bar practising fees, and called to the Nigerian Bar and your name and number were verified from the Supreme Court Roll and NBA database, you would be issued the stamp and seal.