The Legal 500

Nigeria

Legal market overview

In May 2015, former general Muhammadu Buhari became President of Nigeria, campaigning on a staunch anti-corruption platform. However, the President has been criticised for his cautious approach – it took five months to form a government and has yet to deliver credible policies for the country’s economy, which has grown at its slowest pace since 1999. By the end of 2015, several foreign investors had exited the Nigerian market and Nigeria’s stocks dropped to their lowest level in almost three years.

Nonetheless, Nigeria remains Africa’s largest economy and oil producer, and Nigeria’s leading law firms are highly active in energy and energy-related infrastructure deals (notwithstanding a sharp fall in crude oil prices since 2014). Firms are also diversifying into areas such as financial services, power and telecoms, as well as into project finance and regulatory matters.

Dispute resolution is also a busy area for the majority of Nigeria’s law firms, particularly in energy, transport and shipping, while arbitration as a means of dispute resolution continues to grow in popularity. Several Nigerian legal practices field alternative dispute resolution teams that include senior advocates (SANs), an equivalent title to the UK’s QC; it is only granted to lawyers that have no less than ten years’ standing and have distinguished themselves in their legal careers.

Law firms with strong transactional and dispute resolution practices include Aluko & Oyebode, Banwo & Ighodalo and Olaniwun Ajayi & Co. Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie and AELEX are also key players.

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