The Legal 500

Nigeria

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Editorial

Legal market overview

Nigeria is one of the world’s main producers of crude oil and natural gas, with high-end potential for offshore petroleum activity. Consequently, Nigeria’s legal market is especially active in energy-related deals and it has seen an increase in mandates concerning downstream processes; the country’s energy lawyers are keen to have Nigeria’s long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) come into force. The PIB is intended to establish a new legal framework and effective regulatory agencies, and develop new guidelines to govern operations in the upstream and downstream sectors.

However, the recent drop in global crude oil prices has led to fears for the country’s economy, as the country relies on crude oil export for 80% of its earnings. Consequently, the country has recognised the need to stimulate non-oil revenue; meanwhile, the financial services, power and telecoms sectors are growing, giving rise to a flow of regulatory and project finance instructions for law firms.

On the contentious side, the use of arbitration continues to increase and many Nigerian law firms now field alternative dispute resolution teams, including senior advocates (SANs), a title that is of equivalent rank to the UK’s QC; it is conferred on Nigeria’s legal practitioners of at least ten years’ standing who have distinguished themselves in the legal profession.

Key legal market news for Nigeria included the establishment of Sefton Fross in November 2013, which was launched by Olayemi Anyanechi, formerly head of finance at Templars, one of Nigeria’s leading commercial law firms.

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