LEGAL NUGGETS (50): Effect Of Affixing Proof Of payment Of NBA Stamp And Seal Where Stamp And Seal Are Not Available .By Adedotun Habeeb Adetunji LL.M (M.IoD), FCAI.



STAMP/SEAL : Effect of affixing proof of payment of NBA stamp and seal where stamp and seal are not available

"there is the threshold issue of the competence of the application raised by the Respondents, on the ground that the NBA Stamp of the Applicants counsel is not affixed to the application. Without a doubt, the NBA Stamp is not affixed. The Applicants counsel however annexed the Access Bank teller showing that he had duly paid for his NBA Stamp and Seal. Now, what is the effect of this? Is the application incompetent and deserving to be struck out as submitted by the Respondent? In YAKI vs. BAGUDU (2015) LPELR (25721) 1 at 6-7, the apex Court held that a legal document signed and/or filed without complying with Rule 10 (1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 is not null and void or incompetent. The Respondents referred to the decision of this Court in ADEWALE vs. ADEOLA & CO (supra), it is correct that it was held therein at page 20 that a process filed without the seal or stamp of the legal practitioner being affixed is incompetent. However, in arriving at this decision, the Court made it clear that the decision of apex Court in YAKI's case which was delivered less than a month before its judgment in the said case, was not made available to it and the Court could not rely on the ipse dixit of counsel as to what was decided; to that extent therefore the decision of this Court cannot be taken as authority that such a process is incompetent. Definitely, the decision would have kowtowed to the position of the apex Court, if the decision in YAKI's case had been made available to it. So contrary to the Respondents contention, the application is not incompetent. What then is the effect, if any, of the Applicants counsel having attached the bank teller to show that he had paid for the stamp and seal but that the Nigerian Bar Association had not issued it? Dealing with a similar situation, this Court per Ogakwu, JCA in TODAY'S CARS LTD vs. LASACO ASSURANCE PLC (2016) LPELR (41260) 1 at 5-7 stated as follows: "Doubtless, there is no Nigerian Bar Association Stamp and Seal on the Appellant's Brief. The Appellant has however submitted that its counsel has done all on its part to obtain the Seal and that the failure by the Nigerian Bar Association to issue the Seal should not be visited on the Appellant. The Appellant's Brief was filed on 27th April, 2016. Attached to the Appellant's Brief is an Access Bank deposit slip showing that the Appellant's counsel ... paid for the Nigerian Bar Association Stamp in February 2016, a clear two months before the Appellant's Brief was filed. Now, in these circumstances will it be in consonance with the dictates of justice for the Appellant's brief to be said to infringe the provisions of Rule 10 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007, given the fact that the Appellant's counsel has done all that is required of him in order to comply with the stipulation of the Rule. I think not. It is my considered view that having paid for the stamp and seal, all that remained was the domestic affair of the Nigerian Bar Association Secretariat and where like in this situation the Nigerian Bar Association Secretariat is tardy, such tardiness cannot be visited on the Appellant as all required to be done on the part of the Appellant's counsel has been done. See OGBUNYIYA vs. OKUDO (NO.2) (1990) 4 NWLR (PT 146) 551 at 560B, 561H- 562A and 571E and ALAWODE vs. SEMOH (1959) 4 FSC 27 at 29. It is pertinent to add that the rationale behind the requirement for affixing stamp and seal to legal documents seems to be to checkmate quacks in the legal profession, but more importantly, to ensure that legal practitioners fulfil their financial obligations in that regard to the Nigerian Bar Association. The Access Bank deposit slip attached to the Appellant's brief shows that the Appellant's counsel has discharged his financial obligations to the Nigerian Bar Association. To hearken to the 1st Respondent's argument and hold in the diacritical circumstances of this matter that the Appellant's brief was not properly filed will be turning justice on its head, and in fact inculcate injustice." I still maintain the views I expressed in TODAY'S CARS LTD vs. LASACO ASSURANCE PLC (supra) and in the light of the Supreme Court decision in YAKI vs. BAGUDU (supra), I hold that this application is not incompetent." Per OGAKWU, J.C.A. (Pp. 11-15, Paras. C-A)

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