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Tuesday, 1 January 2013
Forecasts for the Law in 2013
I trust that by now we have understood that Resolutions are best confined to corporate decisions. Their binding effect is only assured by the witnessing shareholders/directors. Thus, any attempt at private or personal resolutions will fail. I have no resolutions for 2013. I will not pledge a sudden hatred for alcohol; neither will I promise to meet each of my client’s minute deadlines. I shall treat every issue like a good lawyer; on a case-by-case basis. There will be no attempt at drawing up a sweeping reform-list certain to fade within the first fortnight of January and fill me with needless guilt.
I love looking ahead though. I try to make personal and business forecasts; then I mentally align my expectations and pursuits, accordingly. That is more practical. So, let’s share a few of my legal forecasts for 2013:
1. A myriad Lawsuits from The Cashless Nigeria Project
Given the torture of moving a Bill through our two legislative houses; it has always been more convenient for regulators to issue quick directives and policy statements to address exigencies. So far, these have worked. Whether as a result of the merit of the directives themselves or a docile citizen response is another story of course. Now, everybody is being virtually forced off offline financial transactions. This in a system where there is as yet no stand-alone Electronic Transactions Law or credible legal/enforcement machinery for cybercrimes.
With the projected benefits of the exercise focused more on transactional convenience and faster access to cash; you wouldn’t need a prophet to predict the natural outcome. With a wide ICT capacity dearth; consumers will bear all the risks in an inchoate rights/duty environment while cybercriminals will keep smiling to the banks; or rather, to the ATMs. As usual, nobody will remember the Law until trouble knocks. But then, how many lawyers can competently take the mantle? I already see them dusting off their Sale of Goods Act (1893) in readiness. (Smh: shaking my head).
2. Boom in incorporation of "Airline-tickets-only" Companies
No doubts, the Government is sadly watching the steady decay of a once-hopeful industry, the Aviation Sector. Emphasis of course is on the watching. Happily, enterprising private Nigerians do not need to set up numerous committees and probes to wade into the issue. Their answers are just a junior-lawyer away! Airline passengers will not decrease in 2013, even if the remaining airlines are down to their last crafts. The trick is to set up alternative travel-ticket shops. Faced with extinction, the airlines will be open to new business ideas. They will announce that their websites will no longer sell tickets directly and have outsourced same to approved companies.
They will sell to these companies at a premium, and the costs will be transferred to the passenger. Many more middle-men agencies will crop up to fleece last-minute travellers after having bulk-purchased from the outsourcing agents. Enough said. CAC lawyers are in for a boom. Plus, the government will marvel at the internally generated revenue from Aviations and call off any further probes in the sector. The boom will last forever! The sky is indeed the limit.
3. Same-sex law-suits
So what if it has been prohibited by Law. Is the Constitution not clear with respect to discrimination on the basis of sex? (Be it the gender, the act or the preferred partner, I suppose). Problem is; many lawyers do not want to stir the nest yet. But in 2013, some courageous dude might risk the odds, successfully. And a new crop of Legal Practice will emerge to favourably compete with the Corporate Commercial and Human Rights giants. It will be called; ADVOGAYCY. There will be outrage in many quarters, as many faceless persons emerge from the closets to fight at the courts. Their lawyers will face ridicule, even threats. But in the words of Donald Trump: they would have made the tough decisions, with an eye on the bottom-line.
4. Creating the Lawyers’ Roll on Facebook
Who isn’t on Facebook these days? But has anyone thought of it as a possible source of firsthand database of Lawyers? First step; register a Group on Facebook: Nigerian Lawyers. The Supreme Court’s Chief Registrar would be the site’s Admin. Intending members would log in with their call-to-bar numbers, and this net-based database would easily fish out the frauds. It will create an instant interface with the public Facebookers as every lawyer is free to populate his page with his specialty, tales of conquest, pictures and certifications.
For once, the public can test for themselves whether the SANs possess anything extraordinarily different from the rest. The competition will be sublime. On a fun part, there will also be daily updates from members. If a judge likes your comment on a case you are handling before him, you would screen-munch the page and bill the client some more for significant progress. Technology is not so bad after all.
5. Increased attention to Entertainment Law:
I wince whenever I see new creative acts freely splash their songs and videos on YouTube and other social media. They call it promo, and enjoin persons to download for free. This way, they waive their rights to future claims of infringement. The Law needs to come in here. For a token, lawyers can take up the case of these future Stars. Those Blogs that upload these videos to win hits and adverts will be forced to share the revenue. And if they are being used as caller-tunes; it gets even better. Nigerians will pay for anything good and new. Plus, this beats the hell out of the Copyright levy any day.
...AND; THE THINGS THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN:
1. Long jail terms for fuel subsidy looters
There will be long volumes of Press releases on the concerted efforts of law enforcement. There will be arrests, bails and then it will all grow silent. And we will forget and move on to the next one.
2. Abolishing the title of SAN
This is the prayer-point of many junior lawyers who are sick of the disproportionate market. Calling a few persons SAN is like telling the public that there are golden lawyers on the one hand, and anything else, from aluminium to copper on the other. Sadly, although many are called; few will answer this title in their lifetimes. #harsh-reality
3. No more robes and wigs to court
By February the heat-waves will accelerate in intensity. We will still be bedecked in stiff three-pieces and sodden head-gears. We will keep hoping and dreaming for smart suits and colourful ensemble. It will still not happen in 2013. We will still argue in black and white. The judges will still write in long hand and clients will still not pay promptly.
Be that as it may, I hereby label 2013: the Year of the Law.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!