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FG Sets the Record Straight: UK Lawyers Cannot Practice Law in Nigeria

The Federal Government has revised its position on the legal aspects of the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership signed with the United Kingdom. This decision follows public criticism over the perceived one-sided nature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the UK.

Minister for Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, clarified the government's stance, stating that there is no legal agreement allowing UK-licensed lawyers to practice in Nigeria. She emphasized that Nigeria does not have a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the UK, and no commitment was made under the MOU or elsewhere to permit UK-licensed lawyers to practice in Nigeria.

Currently, foreign licensed lawyers, including those from the UK, cannot practice in Nigeria, as explicitly stated in the MoU. The minister acknowledged that discussions on cross-jurisdictional practice between Nigeria and the United Kingdom are ongoing among relevant stakeholders within the legal practitioners' community, as reflected in the MoU.

Earlier announcements from the UK's Department of Business and Trade, as well as a tweet from Nigeria's Minister of Trade and Investment, had indicated that Nigeria was signing a deal to allow UK lawyers to practice international law in Nigeria. The Nigerian Bar Association criticized this purported agreement, describing the initial statement by the minister as "ridiculous, unpatriotic, and uninformed."

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