The Nigerian economy is facing significant challenges as a result of the negative effect of falling oil prices, with the naira losing over a quarter of its value against major foreign currencies in the last few months. Despite being the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria has one of the lowest tax-revenue-to-GDP ratios in the world. The government has initiated steps to raise revenue through taxation as part of its efforts to productively diversify the economy away from oil. These include the introduction of luxury taxes and the ongoing process to review incentives such as pioneer status which has been the subject of abuse, among others. Four leading lawyers are identified for their outstanding work in this area.
The large and fast-growing telecoms market in Nigeria continues to draw substantial foreign investment. The far-reaching liberalisation of the market has meant that hundreds of companies can function under a unified licensing regime to provide a full range of telecom and value-added services. Mobile and broadband services are being established swiftly, and while there has been some consolidation among players in broadband sector, more than 100 ISPs are still active. In addition, the government committed itself earlier this year to increasing broadband penetration from around 8 per cent to 36 per cent by 2018. Against this backdrop our research has identified 15 outstanding practitioners.
Shipping is a distinct area of growth in Nigeria, with many ship-owners and charterers building stronger commercial relationships through P&I clubs. Nonetheless, Nigerian ports are generally considered to be below international standards and have a reputation for charging particularly high tariffs. The government recently directed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to take a stricter approach towards the Shipping Act’s implementation, and as a result lawyers have already seen an uptick in related compliance work. Our research highlights 11 key individuals.
In May 2014 the Financial Times reported on a $750 million project financing agreement towards construction of an independent power plant; it was widely praised as the first deal of its kind in Nigeria and a sign of things to come in the country’s power sector. With the second phase of the government’s ambitious power privatisation programme currently under way, increasing levels of activity in the project finance market are anticipated for the years ahead. We list 20 specialists in this year’s edition.
There continues to be steady demand among international companies, particularly in the oil and gas sector, for bringing experienced employees into the country. We have listed six lawyers who offer clients expert counsel on Nigeria’s complex and occasionally awkward immigration laws.
In May 2014 the SEC published new rules which introduced exemptions to the mandatory takeover offer regime. Furthermore, the NSE has made further rules to protect minority rights and entrench global best practice in Nigeria. This was a year with significant transactional activity in the banking, oil and gas, food and beverages, power, insurance and manufacturing sectors; in part this was due to regulatory directives while local and foreign direct investment also played a role.
Historically, the Nigerian courts are renowned for being overburdened and slow. However, in the past few years significant efforts have been made to diminish delays, in particular through reforms to the procedural rules for Lagos State High Court in 2012. Judges can identify cases that will be suitable for mediation and can dismiss certain cases earlier, speeding up proceedings. Combined with this, Nigeria continues to experience strong economic growth and as such is an attractive investment option for foreign investors. Against this backdrop litigators have found themselves in high demand, reflected in our research where 26 leading practitioners are listed for their outstanding contribution to the field.
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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.