Federal Government Makes U-turn, Says UK Lawyers Can’t Practice In Nigeria

By Damilare Adeleye

The Federal Government has retracted its earlier statement on the legal aspect of the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership signed with the United Kingdom on Tuesday.

It was learnt that criticisms from Nigerians have trailed the perceived one-sided nature of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the UK.

However, Minister for Trade and Investment, Ms Doris Uzoka-Anite, in a thread on X, made a U-turn on her earlier statement, saying that there was no such legal agreement between Nigeria and the UK.

Anite said, “Earlier today, Nigeria signed a far-reaching MoU with the United Kingdom for Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership.

“Regrettably, our earlier report erroneously suggest that Nigeria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding that allows lawyers licensed in the United Kingdom to practice in Nigeria.

“We wish to state emphatically that there is no such provision or agreement in the MpU.”

The minister reiterated that Nigeria does not have a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the UK and made no commitment under the MOU or elsewhere, to allow UK-licensed lawyers practise in Nigeria.

“As it currently stands, foreign licensed lawyers (including those licensed in the UK) cannot practise in Nigeria, as categorically stated in the MoU.

“We recognize that cross-jurisdictional practice between Nigeria and the United Kingdom is still an ongoing conversation amongst relevant stakeholders within the legal practitioners community in Nigeria, and this was reflected in the MoU,” she added.

On Tuesday, a statement by the UK’s Department of Business and Trade, and a tweet from Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment had stated that Nigeria was signing a deal to remove barriers preventing UK lawyers from practicing international law in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Bar Association had also condemned the purported agreement, stating that the statement credited to the minister was “ridiculous, unpatriotic, and uninformed.”