How to Become a SAN in Nigeria: I was at the Federal High Court of Enugu two days ago to hear a matter assigned to me in the law firm where I work as an intern. It was a matter that has to do with breach of contract, and the two parties in the case were represented by their lawyers. The plaintiff came with a SAN while the defendant came with a normal lawyer. During the court proceedings, a lot of things happened that made me to think that the Judge was more respectful to the SAN.
Well, i did not know much about the title of a SAN in Nigeria until after that court proceeding. It was clear that SAN are lawyers of high prestige and a lot of judges pay more respect to them than a normal lawyer. I didn’t hesitate to go online and start reading things about SANship in Nigeria. Based on my research, I found out that any lawyer in Nigeria can actually become a SAN if some certain requirements are reached.
In this article, i am going to tell you everything you need to know about becoming a SAN in Nigeria and the necessary requirements for becoming a SAN in Nigeria. Without wasting much time, lets quickly see who a SAN in Nigeria is.
About the rank of a SAN in Nigeria
SAN stands for Senior Advocate of Nigeria. This is an honorary rank/title that is conferred on deserving and distinguished legal practitioners in Nigeria. It title was first conferred on April 3, 1975 on chief F.R.A Williams and Dr. Nabo Graham-DOUGLAS. It is equivalent to the rank of Queens’s counsel in the United Kingdom and tends to admit members into the inner bar as opposed to the usual outer bar where other legal practitioners stay in court.
The rank of a SAN is conferred in accordance with section 5 of the legal practitioners Act cap 207 by the legal practitioners’ privileges committee. This committee is made up of the chief justice of Nigeria as the chairman, the attorney general of the federation, one justice of the supreme court (chosen by the chief justice of Nigeria and attorney general of the federation for a term of two years renewable on one occasion only), the president of the court of appeal, and five chief judges of states (chosen by the chief justice of Nigeria and the attorney general of the federation for a term of two years renewable on one occasion only), the chief judge of the federal high court and five legal practitioners who are SANs (chosen by the CJN and the AGF on a term of two years renewable on one occasion only).
Requirements for SANship in Nigeria
Before a person is conferred with the title of SAN, there are certain requirements to be fulfilled which are: that
- Applicants must be a citizen of Nigeria.
- He must have practiced as a lawyer for at least a period of 10years
- The applicant must be of good/impeccable character and integrity.
- An applicant must register for the award with a non-refundable fee of 300 000 naira.
- The applicant must submit to the legal practitioners’ privileges committee a list of 10 judges of the superior courts of record before whom he had appeared and argued important cases. The legal practitioners’ privileges committee will select any 3 of those judges to give testimonial statements about him.
- He must also submit a list of colleagues with whom he has handled cases, 3 of whom will be selected to give testimonial statements.
- An applicant must have had at least 8 judgments of the high court, 6 judgments of the court of appeal, and 3 judgments of the Supreme Court. But where he appeared only before the Supreme Court, he will be required to submit 6 judgments of the Supreme Court.
- He must show evidence that he has been paying his practicing fee and membership dues to his local branch of the Nigerian Bar Association for at least a period of 10 consecutive years preceding the year of applying for the award.
- He must also show evidence of the payment of income tax for at least 3years preceding his application.
- The legal practitioners’ privileges committee has a duty to inspect the applicants firm in order to assess the size and quality of his library, the numbers and competence of his staff.
- Applicants must show evidence of where he rendered pro bono cases as a form of community service.
- If the applicant is an academic in law, he/she must submit at least 20 copies of outstanding legal works which are published to the committee.
- The academic must show that his work was published by a reputable and a recognized publisher whose reputation shall be checked by the academic sub-committee of the legal practitioners’ privileges committee.
All these strict steps/rules were put in place in order to preserve the prestige of the title. Even as a SAN, one can be stripped of his title on grounds of misconducts or ungodly practices. A case for reference is the case of Ajibola Aribisala who was suspended of his SANship for 20 months on grounds of an alleged breach of professional ethics and conducts.
Hope this was helpful? In a recap, i have explained the title of a SAN in Nigeria, requirements for obtaining the title and situations which can cause one to loose the title.