Editor’s Note: Saheed Akinola Esq, the Managing Partner of Choiceland solicitors, in this latest article, he explains the reasons why it is a crime for any non-lawyer to prepare an agreement on landed property.
Saheed is a legal practitioner, property lawyer, human right crusader and business advisor. He could be contacted through +2348032493960, lagoslawgurus@gmail,com
There are certain classes of agreement, if not made by a lawyer, may end up being a useless paper in the event of litigation where same is expected to be used as a documentary evidence to establish a particular fact. As a matter of fact no non-lawyer can prepare an agreement for another person for a fee-such agreement will be invalid in law and goes to no issue.
Lawyers’ work is like an ocean, which is limitless, because it touches every sphere of lives. Hence, law practice is all encompassing.
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To prevent quackery, lawyers’ work is protected by a federal law (the Legal Practitioners Act, 2004). The Federal law prohibits every non-lawyer from performing any part of lawyers’ work.
The import of the provision of section 22 of Legal Practitioners act 2004 LFN is that it is an offence for non-lawyer to prepare any document/agreement relating to rent, buildings and Land
Indeed it is a criminal offence in Nigeria, for a non-lawyer to prepare any document relating to rent, tenancy, lease, mortgage, sale, transfer, gift, land, landed property, extracted and not-extracted minerals resources, mines, buildings, structures or relating to probate, letters of administration or any proceedings in court in Nigeria.
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The offence is punishable with a fine that is not more than #200.00 or imprisonment for not more than 2 years or both. Where an offender is a company, the directors, managers, secretaries or any such officer as well as the company will be held liable.
However, the offence cannot be brought to court after 3 years from the time the offence was committed. It is irrelevant whether the non-lawyer posed as a lawyer or not, the mere fact that the work of lawyers is been performed by a non-lawyer for a fee is a crime.
All agreements not made by lawyers are invalid and useless, where the agreement was prepared for a fee and the agreement relates to rent, tenancy, lease, mortgage, sale, transfer, gift, land, landed property, extracted and not-extracted minerals resources, mines, buildings, structures or probate, letters of administration or any proceedings in court in Nigeria.
This criminal act is common among agents in Nigeria to avoid payment of professional fee. Some even go to the extent of using lawyer’s name on the said document so as to represent to their clients that the document is prepared by a lawyer. This is an impersonation and it is a crime.