12 Jun How to make a complaint against a Lawyer in Nigeria
Complaints against a Nigerian Lawyer
Like most professions, lawyers are bound by a code of conduct, and once they breach this code there are sanctions which can be applied to them. The body which regulates the conduct of lawyers in Nigeria – the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has a specific committee set up to deal with complaints against lawyers called the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC). The creation of the LPDC is contained in Section 10 of the Legal Practitioners Act. The LPDC is charged with the charged with the duty of considering and determining any case where it is alleged that a lawyer has misbehaved in his capacity as a legal practitioner.
The LPDC is comprised of the Attorney General of the Federation (who is the Chairperson), and all Attorney Generals of the States of the Federation, as well as 12 Legal Practitioners of not less than 10 years standing appointed by the Body of Benchers on the nomination of the NBA.
Steps to making a complaint
- Before making a complaint, it is always helpful that you first complain to the lawyer in question, make you’re the source of your grievance known to him/her and give them the opportunity to rectify the situation. You may find that approaching them first will resolve the issue. However, if this does not work, then you should move to the next step.
- Make a complaint to the LPDC of the NBA, the NBA has set up an online process for you to make the complaint, by first locating the lawyer in the NBA database using the Find A Lawyer tool on the website. Once you locate the lawyer, then there is a button to ‘Report’ the lawyer. This will lead you to an online form where you confirm the lawyer’s details, complete your contact details, and then upload your complaint in a .PDF document.
- While the process outlined in Step 2 above is quite commendable by the NBA, unfortunately it is not foolproof, as the lawyer database is not complete and so you might be unable to locate the lawyer. If you do not want to (or cannot) use the online tool, then you can write a complaint letter and send it to the NBA Office, marked for the attention of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee – NBA House, No. 24, Oro-Ago Crescent, Off Muhammadu Buhari way, Garki Area II, Abuja F.C.T. Nigeria
- Now, what should your complaint letter cover? For your complaint to be effective, you need to ensure that you:
- set out your concerns clearly,
- identify individuals you consider responsible,
- state what outcome you are after
- attach any evidence you have in support.
What happens next?
Once you have made your complaint to the LPDC, the LPDC will investigate your complaint and might contact you to obtain more information or clarify certain points. It will also contact the lawyer to inform him/her about your complaint and give them their right to fair hearing.
If the LPDC adjudges the lawyer to have been guilty of professional misconduct, it has the power to direct a return of any monies due to the client or return of any document in the lawyer’s custody. It also has the power to sanction the lawyer by ordering that his/her name be struck off the roll as a registered legal practitioner, suspending the lawyer from practicing for a period of time, or admonishing the lawyer.
If you feel that your lawyer is guilty of misconduct towards delivery of services to you, then you should enforce your rights and make a complaint.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.