Judicial Attitude towards Entitlement to practise Law in Nigeria vis à vis the Competence of Court Processes signed by Law Firms

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Abstract

The issue of the propriety or competence of law firms in signing court processes has assumed an interesting dimension in the Nigerian legal or justice administration system. Court processes have been thrown out or struck out by the courts on the basis that they were not properly signed by litigants themselves or their legal practitioners, even where such processes have been clearly signed by the law firms of the legal practitioners retained by the litigants. While some concerned legal experts have argued that the courts ought not to strike out a process signed by a law firm on the ground that such action smacks of unguarded adherence to technicalities, some others and indeed the courts are of the firm view that a law firm is not a legal Practitioner as defined by the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap L11, Laws of the Federations, 2010, and as such, any process purportedly signed by such a firm is incompetent and liable to be struck out.

This paper, has examined the position of the law on this burning or topical issue. It is contended that any suit or appeal initiated by a process which is signed by a law firm is liable to be struck out, same having not been initiated by the due process of the law. Thus we have gravitated towards the extant judicial position that a law firm cannot validly sign a process, in view of the fact that it was not called to the Bar or enrolled by the Supreme Court to practice law - including signing of processes - in Nigeria. We have also argued that the extant position of the law should not apply to processes signed and filed by law firms under the now extinct pre-2007 Supreme Court position. In respect of such Processes, we have recommended a "judicial saving provision".
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)42-63
Number of pages22
JournalUniversity of Benin Journal of Private and Property Law
Volume4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2015

Keywords

  • Practice
  • Law Firm
  • Signature
  • Signing
  • Legal Practitioner
  • Nigeria
  • Court

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