Bar Practice Fees Payment And NBA Online Payment Portal – Rebuttal Of Steve Sun’s Article

1. Our attention has been drawn to an article published yesterday, 20 February 2019 by our colleague, Steve Sun, on the online legal blogs, suggesting that the payments of Bar Practice Fees (“BPF”) through the NBA Online Payment Portal “is ultra vires, no matter how well-intentioned . . . null and void and . . . bound to be quashed by the court upon being challenged”. The premise on which he builds his argument is that Section 2(3) of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap L11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (“LPA”) mandates the payment of the BPF “to the Registrar (i.e. the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court)” and he believes and posits that the payments of the fees through the NBA Online Payment Portal detracts from those provisions.

2. With great respect to Steve Sun, he is wholly mistaken in his arguments and assumptions. The Bar Practice Fees, whether paid online through the innovative NBA Online Payment Portal or in the old tedious manner of visiting the Bank Branches and lining up to make the payments, all get paid into the same Access Bank Account Number 0000976716 whose Account Holder is “Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja (BPF)”. For emphasis and the avoidance of doubt, the Bar Practice Fees that are paid through the NBA Online Payment Portal do not go to any account other than the afore-specified “Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja (BPF)” account.

3. What the NBA has done through its online payment portal is to facilitate an efficient, stress-free, technology-driven payment process of the BPF and other NBA’s related payments, for the benefit and comfort of our members, and this is to the knowledge of the Supreme Court Chief Registrar and the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation, both of whom are members of the NBA. There is therefore nothing ultra vires or incompetent howsoever in the innovative online BPF payment method that has been introduced by the NBA. Indeed, this innovative payment facilitation by the NBA is not any different from the role the NBA has always played from time immemorial in encouraging members to make their BPF payments on time.

4. Finally, we must point out that the inconvenient and manual BPF payment method has not been scrapped; it co-exists side-by-side the online payment system for members who, for one reason or the other, may wish or opt to make their payments the old-fashioned way. Both payment methods are legitimate and legally competent, and they all go to the same purse i.e. Access Bank Account Number 0000976716 titled “Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja (BPF)”.

Kunle Edun
Publicity Secretary
Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)

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