‘We regret our earlier Error’: ETIP Agreement doesn’t allow Lawyers licensed in UK to practise in Nigeria – FG makes clarification

The federal government on Wednesday clarified some aspects of the Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership (ETIP) signed with the United Kingdom on Tuesday.

Nigerians had taking to various social media handle to call out the federal government for signing a “one-sided memorandum of understanding (MOU)” with the UK.

Recall that on Tuesday, a statement by the UK’s department of Business and Trade, and a tweet from Doris Uzoka-Anitie, Nigeria’s minister for trade and investment, said Nigeria was signing a deal to remove barriers preventing UK lawyers from practising international law in Nigeria.

Reacting the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in a statement by its president said such agreement was unacceptable.

Uzoka-Anitie, in a thread on X, walked back her earlier statement and said there was no such legal agreement between Nigeria and the UK.

She added that the partnership signed was well thought-out and painstakingly negotiated by Nigerian experts across various sectors.

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

“It is a robust partnership understanding which promises to be a springboard for immense growth in trade relations with the United Kingdom.

“The Partnership was well thought-out and painstakingly negotiated by Nigerian experts across various sectors.

“It touched on areas of mutual business interests including finance, technical barriers to trade, healthcare, investment, customs and trade facilitation, agriculture, intellectual property, creative industry and legal services — to mention a few.

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

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

The minister restated that Nigeria does not have a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) 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 U.K.) cannot practice in Nigeria, as categorically stated in the MOU,” she said.

“We recognise that cross jurisdictional practice between Nigeria and the United Kingdom is still an on-going conversation amongst relevant stakeholders within the legal practitioners community in Nigeria, and this was reflected in the MOU.” [Cable]

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