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Lawyers still have a role to play on company registration, but …—CAC boss, Mahmud

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The Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Bello Mahmud has made clarification on how the services of a lawyer can be used at a minimal cost on the prospective applicant wishing to register a new company.

In an interview, he said hence the law did not say that the legal practitioner who must depose to the declaration on behalf of any customer that decides to present the application, must be a private legal practitioner, as part of our drive to ease of doing business, we made it in a way that a CAC staff who is a lawyer should therefore depose for applicant at a flat rate fee of N500 to the Commission.

He explained further “So if you are a direct customer, that is one of the first directions when you present your document to CAC; you are only required to pay additional sum of N500 to cover the cost of authorization”.

“So it would be the responsibility of the approving officer in the CAC who is a lawyer to sign that declaration. The minister has given directive for CAC to enlist the service of Private Notary Public that would sign this declaration that is being presented by direct customers for a maximum fee of N500 per application.

Continuing, Mahmud disclosed that earlier “There is a provision of the law which states that at the point of registration of a company under part A, a legal practitioner must depose to the statutory declaration that the requirements of the law had been complied with. And that forms part of the documents that is supposed to be presented to CAC to register the company”.

“The practice over the years had been that if you are a chartered accountant, a chartered secretary or a lawyer, then you have a right of audience in CAC and you could go to CAC and present your documents.

“This means that for an accountant who is not a lawyer, even if he is engaged by somebody to register a company, he has to go through a lawyer to get that lawyer to depose to that declaration because an accountant cannot sign that declaration and the same applies to the chartered secretary.

“So using the same analogy, the government said if you are using other classes of professionals to register companies who by law cannot depose to this statutory declaration, why not allow the owners of this business themselves to also do the registration.

On whether direct customers won’t need a lawyer anymore to register companies, CAC boss averred that “For a direct customer, you don’t need to take your document to a lawyer. But we don’t expect every Nigerian to come here to register a company. There are people that may not have the time because they may be too busy”.

“There are people that have sufficient money that can engage the services of a professional but the concern of government is the Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneur that may not necessarily have the requisite capital to register. Why should that person pay a legal fee of N30, 000 to N50, 000 whereas the registration fee ranges between N20, 000 to N25, 000?

“So because of that concern and in line with global best practices, most of the countries of the world have dispensed with requirement of notarization and for Nigeria to compete, we had to amend our processes and requirement in line with global best practices..

“You cannot claim you want to improve your ranking if you are still using standards that are just peculiar to you. You have to scan the world and find out what is the global best practice.

“The ultimate objective is to even remove that requirement from law. Once that requirement is removed, you don’t even need to pay N5, 000 for notarization,” Mahmud explained.


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