The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) has released new guidelines for the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) on deserving lawyers.
A copy of the new guidelines obtained by THISDAY shows that applicants for the coveted rank will now pay N300,000 as application fee as against N250,000 paid last year.
A committee set up to review the guidelines had recommended N500,000 application fee and justified the recommendation on the high cost of conducting chambers inspection across the country.
However, the Chairman of the LPPC and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Mukhtar, rejected the recommendation, arguing that it was too high.
The new guidelines have also empowered the committee to suspend a legal practitioner from using the SAN rank pending the determination of any disciplinary action, complaint or prosecution against the person.
This new power will allow the committee to punish an accused legal practitioner even when his guilt has not been established.
Other changes in the new guidelines include earlier opening of the application process. Call for applications will now be made not later than January 7 each year as against not later than January 31 under the former arrangement.
Applicants were also required to provide certified true copies of complete record of trial proceedings in at least five cases he or she handled at the high court from filing stage to judgment to show that he or she conducted the trial throughout.
For those applying as academics, the new guidelines introduced fresh hurdles.
They must now show that their published works were published by reputable publishers 'whose reputation shall be assessed and determined by the Academic Sub-committee'.
The guidelines further retained the weighted criteria for the evaluating candidates' competence which are: integrity 25 per cent, judges' opinion 15 per cent, knowledge of law 15 per cent, contribution to the development of the law 10 per cent, leadership qualities 10 per cent, strength and quality of reference 15 per cent and quality of law office 10 per cent.