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Legal Market Overview

For Nigeria, the past year has been a tale of two halves. The Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020 forced President Muhammadu Buhari to announce a total lockdown of both the federal capital, Abuja, and the commercial capital, Lagos, and the resulting economic impact was aggravated further by the closure of businesses, import and export restrictions, and unprecedented disruption to the financial, shipping and transportation and manufacturing sectors.

The onset of the pandemic, coupled with the fall in oil prices in spring 2020, have had a devastating effect on Nigeria’s economy, which caused a decline in the country’s foreign exchange and a depreciation of the Nigerian Naira.

The pandemic has also exposed the shortcomings of the Nigerian legal system in regard to the use of technology in court procedures and commercial activities. In response, the country’s law firms have adapted very quickly to the changing environment and have become more innovative and tech-savvy, with many professionals now fully utilising state-of-the-art systems to interact with clients and using billing and case management software and other applications to help clients in saving costs, providing effective low-cost legal solutions and ensuring limited interruptions.

In other developments, the Nigerian Tax and Fiscal Law (Amendment) Bill 2019 – otherwise known as the Finance Bill – has been formally adopted with the promise of reforming domestic tax laws, introducing tax incentives for infrastructure and capital markets, and increase government revenue while bolstering the struggling small business sector in Africa’s largest economy.