How to Prove the Engagement of a Lawyer.

How to Prove the Engagement of a Lawyer

How to Prove the Engagement of a Lawyer. Daily Law Tips (Tip 645) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Lawyers are professionals and their services can be engaged. In Nigeria, only lawyers that are called to bar in Nigeria and have their names enrolled in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, can have their services engaged in Nigeria. Proving that the services of a lawyer (legal practitioner) has been engaged may be hard, especially where the client of the lawyer is detained and not in court. This work examines the three (3) major means of proving that a lawyer has been engaged by a client.

In a country with very low access to justice and transparency, it is not impossible to find persons being detained without access to legal practitioners of their choice. Harassment and abuse of lawyers by law enforcement agents, to prevent detained suspects from accessing their lawyers is no news in Nigeria. Dragging suspects to courts without notice to their lawyers is not strange, any more. Finding suspects in courts without legal representation is not novel, in our system. At many times courts have even seen multiple opposing/disagreeing lawyers appearing in a case for the same party and the lawyers questioning the engagement of the other. Where lawyers are owed legal fees, they can sue for recovery of their fees and certainly this needs proof of engagement of legal services. 

Here are the three (3) simple means of proving the engagement of services of a lawyer in Nigeria, as presented by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. 

“This could be in the form of any three ways mentioned above i.e. by having physical access to him to give his instructions in writing, or by his swearing to an affidavit, or even writing a letter under his own long hand to the trial court and the contending Counsel.” Belgore, JSC.

Click to read more works on Lawyers and Clients in Nigeria. 

My authorities are:

  1. Sections 2 and 4 of the Legal Practitioners Act 1975
  2. The judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of ABIOLA V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (SC 246/1994) [1996] 1 (21 MAY 1996);
  3. James Ezeh, “Nigerian Lawyer Hospitalised after Police Assault, NBA Demands Justice” (Premuim Times, 13 October 2019) <> 1 September 2020.
  4. Human Rights Watch, “Nigeria: Lawyer Says Police Assaulted Her” (Human Rights Watch, 6 February 2020) <> 1 September 2020
  5. The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law, “Justice Needs and Satisfaction in Nigeria 2018” (HIIL, 2018) <> accessed 27 July 2020.










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