Legal Market Overview
Following the 2016 global decline in oil prices, Nigeria’s oil dependent economy continues its slow post-recession recovery. Compounded by uncertainty surrounding the 2019 elections, foreign investment has continued to err on the side of caution over the past year. As banks are also cautious of providing loans in the current climate, businesses have been looking to alternative financing means such as global depository receipts and commercial paper offerings. These factors have also led to an uptick in recovery and financial restructuring opportunities for Nigerian firms.
Although there are ambitions to diversify the energy and natural resources sector into new fields such as solar energy, oil and gas remains the dominant export. FMCG, insurance and healthcare are industries experiencing market growth. The Federal Government of Nigeria has looked to Islamic finance to fund much-needed infrastructure projects by issuing ₦100bn in non-interest (sukuk) bonds.
The Nigerian legal market does not permit foreign law firms to operate in the country, thus major domestic firms such as Aluko & Oyebode, Banwo & Ighodalo, G. Elias & Co, AELEX and Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie retain the lion’s share of contentious and non-contentious legal instructions. However, international firms such as Clifford Chance LLP, Stephenson Harwood, Baker McKenzie, Shearman & Sterling LLP and Linklaters Business Services handle cross-border commercial disputes and transactions arising from Nigeria’s major industries. The title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is the country’s equivalent of the Queen’s Counsel rank, conferred to distinguished legal practitioners of over ten years’ experience.