The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN, was in London to attend the 2023 Opening of the Legal Year for England and Wales.

The event commenced on Sunday, 1 October with a Bar Leader’s Discussion organised by the Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council of England and Wales, that took place at Grey’s Inn. The Discussion which had the NBA President as one of the panelists, explored the topic: How best to consolidate the independence of the legal profession in international – and domestic – law? Should there be a binding legal instrument protecting the independence of the legal profession? If so, what should it say? The other panelists were Panagiotis Perakis, President CCBE; Sheila Webster, President, Law Society of Scotland; Victor Dawes SC, Chairman Hong Kong Bar Association.

The discussion was chaired by Nick Vineall KC, President of the Bar Council of England and Wales, while Lubna Shuja, the outgoing President of the Law Society of England and Wales, delivered the final remarks.

In his intervention, Mr Maikyau noted the very important place that legal practitioners occupy in the society as underscored in the profound words of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, CJN, who posited that “The respect in which the Bar in any county is held is the best indicator of the freedom in that country”.

He also noted that the recent increased agitations in various countries to regulate the Bar is an indication that the Bar may have lost some of its respect and this may not be unconnected to the way we have carried ourselves ethically over the years. The Discussion was followed by a formal dinner at the Law Society Hall.

The Opening of the Legal Year Service took place on Monday, 2 October 2023 with a Church Service at the Westminster Abbey, followed by Lord Chancellor’s reception and a Seminar with the Judiciary. This year’s event coincides with the swearing-in of Dame Sue Lascelles Carr, DBE as the Chief Justice in England and Wales; the first lady Chief Justice since the creation of the office in the 13th century. There were several networking events on the sidelines, with beneficial discussions of possible collaborations and partnerships.

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