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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Olumide Babalola Sues KPMG, PWC, Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche

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Olumide Babalola, a legal practitioner, has commenced four different suits against the “Big 4’ – KPMG, PWC, Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche for offering legal advisory services in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners. In Suit Nos. FHC/AB/CS/69/20, FHC/AB/CS/70/20, FHC/AB/CS/71/20 and FHC/AB/CS/72/20, filed on his behalf by the duo of Abdulwasiu Esuola and Chukwudi Ajaegbo, the Plaintiff is seeking the following similar reliefs:

  1. A DECLARATION that by virtue of the combined provisions of section 150 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and section 1(1) and (2)(a) of the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA), the 2nd Defendant, as the President of General Council of the Bar is duty-bound to take action to ascertain compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct made pursuant to the Legal Practitioners Act.
  2. A DECLARATION that by virtue of rule 8(2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners made pursuant to the Legal Practitioners Act, legal practitioners under salaried employment in the 1st Defendant cannot prepare, sign, or frank pleadings, applications, instruments, agreements, contracts, deed, letters, memorandums, report, legal advisory/opinions or similar instruments or process or file any such document for their employers and/or their employer’s customers.
  3. A DECLARATION that by virtue of rule 8 (2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, any pleadings, applications, instruments, agreements, contracts, deeds, letters, memorandums, report, legal advisory/opinions or similar instruments, report, or process, prepared and/or signed by a legal practitioner under the 1st Defendant’s salaried employment for his employers and/or employer’s customers are invalid, null and void.
  4. A DECLARATION that by virtue of rule 8 (2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, the preparation and/or signing of pleadings, applications, instruments, agreements, contracts, deeds, letters, memorandums, report, legal advisory/opinions or similar instruments, report, or process, or the filing of any such document by a legal practitioner in salaried employment for his employers or employer’s customers constitute professional misconduct.
  5. A DECLARATION that the 1st Defendant’s advertisement published on their website with respect to provision of legal advisory services violates the provision of rule 39 (2) (b) and (3) (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners.
  6. PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the 1st Defendant’s employees who are legal practitioners from further preparing and/or signing of pleadings, applications, instruments, agreements, contracts, deeds, letters, memorandums, report, legal advisory/opinions or similar instruments, report, or process for their employers and/or employers’ customers and/or advertising same in the media or any other platform.

By his originating summons dated July 19, 2020, the Plaintiff distilled the following questions for determination:

i. Whether or not by the interpretation of section 150 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and section 1(1) and (2)(a) of the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA), the 2nd Defendant, as the President of General Council of the Bar, is duty-bound to take action to ascertain that the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners are complied with?

ii. Whether or not by the interpretation of rule 8(2) and (3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, the 1st Defendant’s lawyers in salaried employment can prepare, sign, or frank pleadings, applications, instrument, agreement, contract, deed, letters, memorandum, report, legal advisory/opinions or similar instruments or process or file any such document for their employers and/or their employer’s customers?

iii. Whether or not by the interpretation of rule 39 (2) (b) and (3) (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, the 1st Defendant’s advertisement published on its website, with respect to provision of legal advisory/opinions and services violate the said provision of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners?

iv. Whether or not by the interpretation of rule 55(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, the provision of legal advisory/opinions by lawyers under the 1st Defendant’s salaried employment constitutes professional misconduct punishable under the Legal Practitioners Act, LFN 2010?

The matter is yet to be assigned to any judge in the division as at press time.

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