SETS UP JOINT HELP DESK FOR CAC COMPLAINTS
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has reversed its hard stance on the ongoing re-accreditation exercise by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), asking lawyers to comply with the directive. It has also set up a joint help desk with the CAC to address lawyers’ complaints.
In a press statement signed by NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the association stated that “The CAC and the NBA have agreed that rather than require lawyers and accredited agents to pay the accreditation fee on an annual basis, the payment will be a one-off fee.”
The statement added that “The CAC and the NBA have also agreed that the payment and reaccreditation will not apply to lawyers who paid or were accredited by the CAC between 1st January 2020 and the date of the initial reaccreditation notice from the CAC in March 2021. The portion of the reminder notice from the CAC dated 1st June 2021 which exempted only those who procured their accreditation after 31st December 2020 was an error which will be withdrawn or clarified by the CAC.”
This is a sharp departure from the position of the lawyers’ body which had in a press statement on March 12, 2021 chided the corporate registry agency for the revalidation exercise, saying that “it is both insensitive and smacks of utter bad faith on the part of the CAC to proceed with this policy without due consultation with the NBA whose members make up over 80% of the customer base of the CAC.”
The NBA had also reasoned that “it is possible to achieve a clean database of accredited agents by requiring those who had been previously accredited by the CAC to simply update and revalidate their records on the CAC portal (at no cost) or lose their accreditation by the new deadline,” adding that “The obligatory charge imposed by the CAC should not apply to existing users but only to those customers who have never been accredited by the CAC and who now seek to be part of the system.”
The lawyers’ body had also based its opposition to the payment of the N10,000 revalidation fee on the harsh economic climate, saying: “The NBA strongly urges the CAC to reconsider its position with respect to the payment of the revalidation fee by existing users, and more importantly to continue to work assiduously towards improving customer experience by resolving the several complaints by users of the system and enhancing efficiency.”
It was unclear at press time whether the NBA has secured any major shift from the CAC prior to altering its position on the issue, moreso as the CAC had since March 12, 2021 clarified in a tweet that the payment is a one-off. It had stated thus: “Dear esteemed Customers, please be informed that payment for re-validation of accreditation is one-off. And accreditation is not renewable annually. Furthermore, the timeline for re-validation of accreditation has been extended to June, 10 2021.”
Aside from merely stating that “The CAC maintains that the revalidation exercise is important to it for a proper administration of the CAC database especially as the CAC migrates to a process where most or all activities at, or dealings with, the CAC will be concluded on its online portal,” the NBA leadership has not provided any justification for its new stance on the revalidation fee.
Below is the full text of the NBA statement.
3rd June 2021
To all Lawyers in Nigeria
CAC DIRECTIVE ON RE-VALIDATION OF ACCREDITED AGENTS: UPDATE FROM THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION
Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) would have seen a notice dated 1st June 2021 from the Corporate Affairs Commission (“CAC”) reminding accredited agents of the CAC to revalidate their status as agents with the CAC. Accredited agents are required to pay for such revalidation on or before 10th June 2021 or risk a suspension of their accounts.
Kindly recall that when the news of this revalidation first broke out in March 2021, the NBA had issued a statement dated 12th March 2021 informing Nigerian lawyers that the NBA was engaging with the CAC on this process. Following the engagements, we wish to provide the update below:
1. The CAC maintains that the revalidation exercise is important to it for a proper administration of the CAC database especially as the CAC migrates to a process where most or all activities at, or dealings with, the CAC will be concluded on its online portal.
2. The CAC and the NBA have agreed that rather than require lawyers and accredited agents to pay the accreditation fee on an annual basis, the payment will be a one-off fee.
3. The CAC and the NBA have also agreed that the payment and reaccreditation will not apply to lawyers who paid or were accredited by the CAC between 1st January 2020 and the date of the initial reaccreditation notice from the CAC in March 2021. The portion of the reminder notice from the CAC dated 1st June 2021 which exempted only those who procured their accreditation after 31st December 2020 was an error which will be withdrawn or clarified by the CAC.
4. The CAC and the NBA have agreed that in order to enhance efficiency at the CAC and deal with service level complaints from lawyers who use the services of the CAC, an NBA help/support desk (manned by the NBA-CAC Task Force) will be set up at the CAC. Lawyers who have applications at the CAC that are not attended to within the designated timelines may escalate their complaints to the NBA support team which will liaise with the CAC with a view to resolving the issues. Such complaints should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Kindly note that only correspondence relating to delays and service inefficiency at the CAC will be entertained by this help/support desk.
5. The NBA is not oblivious of the challenges that lawyers have had to face with their clients on account of delayed processing of applications, and other service-related issues at the CAC. Accordingly, the NBA will continue to work with the CAC towards enhancing efficiency at the CAC and generally improving on the experience of our members when dealing with the CAC.
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