A few friends got talking about the current position of the law on the need for lawyers to attach the Nigeria Bar Association stamp/seal on a document and what to do where the seal is unavailable.

One of the contributors shared the ruling below and it is an important addition to the discourse:

FILING OF COURT PROCESSES WITH YOUR RECEIPT AND BANK TELLER IS COMPETENT.

Today’s Car Ltd v Lasaco Ass. Plc & anor 2016 Lpelr 41260 (Ca)

LEGAL PRACTITIONER – STAMP/SEAL: Effect of failure to affix the approved seal and stamp of the Nigerian Bar Association on a legal document.

“By the provisions of Rule 10 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007, the Nigerian Bar Association Stamp and Seal is to be affixed on every document to be signed and filed by a legal practitioner; where this is not done, such a document shall be deemed not to have been properly signed or filed: YAKI VS BAGUDU.

Doubtless, there is no Nigerian Bar Association Stamp and Seal on the Appellant’s Brief. The Appellant has however submitted that its counsel has done all on its part to obtain the Seal and that the failure by the Nigerian Bar Association to issue the Seal should not be visited on the Appellant. The Appellant’s Brief was filed on 27th April 2016. Attached to the Appellant’s Brief is an Access Bank deposit slip showing that the Appellant’s counsel, Peter Ikechukwu Ozobialu, Esq., paid for the Nigerian Bar Association Stamp in February 2016, a clear two months before the Appellant’s Brief was filed.

Now, in these circumstances will it be in consonance with the dictates of justice for the Appellant’s brief to be said to infringe the provisions of Rule 10 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007, given the fact that the Appellant’s counsel has done all that is required of him in order to comply with the stipulation of the Rule. I think not. It is my considered view that having paid for the stamp and seal, all that remained was the domestic affair of the Nigerian Bar Association Secretariat and where like in this situation the Nigerian Bar Association Secretariat is tardy, such tardiness cannot be visited on the Appellant as all required to be done on the part of the Appellant’s counsel has been done. See OGBUNYIYA vs. OKUDO (NO.2) (1990) 4 NWLR (PT 146) 551 at 560B, 561H, 562A and 571E and ALAWODE vs. SEMOH (1959) 4 FSC 27 at 29.

It is pertinent to add that the rationale behind the requirement for affixing stamp and seal to legal documents seems to be to checkmate quacks in the legal profession, but more importantly, to ensure that legal practitioners fulfil their financial obligations in that regard to the Nigerian Bar Association. The Access Bank deposit slip attached to the Appellant’s brief shows that the Appellant’s counsel has discharged his financial obligations to the Nigerian Bar Association. To hearken to the 1st Respondent’s argument and hold in the diacritical circumstances of this matter that the Appellant’s brief was not properly filed will be turning justice on its head, and in fact inculcate injustice.”

Per OGAKWU, J.C.A. (Pp. 6-86, Paras. C-C)                   

 

Editor’s Note: While the Court of Appeal decision above appears to be a good and desirable consideration of the law, it may remain only persuasive when placed side by side with the decisions of the Supreme Court in Yaki v Bagudu; and Wike v Peterside.

I dream of a Nigeria where everyone knows what they need to know about the law.

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