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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Babajide O Ogundipe

Babajide O Ogundipe

Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore7th Floor, St Nicholas HouseCatholic Mission Street, PO Box 80367LagosNigeria101231

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Babajide Ogundipe is internationally recognised as a world-class asset recovery lawyer and is highlighted for his excellent work on related fraud investigations.

Questions & Answers

Babajide Ogundipe is senior partner of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore. His primary practice, providing corporate legal advice and work as a commercial litigator, led to conducting investigations into fraud, seeking to recover lost value on behalf of victims of various types of fraud and other misfeasance, and advising on due diligence. Consequently, he has gained enormous experience, and has come to be recognised as one of Nigeria’s leading lawyers, in this practice area.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I qualified to practise in Nigeria in July 1979. My compulsory national service was served in Kaduna state in Northern Nigeria, where I worked with the Kaduna State Ministry of Justice (five months) and the Nigerian Legal Aid Commission in Kaduna (six months). After returning to Lagos I worked in Chief Rotimi Williams’ Chambers, Nigeria’s leading lawyer at the time. Initially, I mostly provided advice to non-Nigerian corporate clients, notwithstanding my preference for litigation. Within a year, I was involved in my first fraud investigation – purchase frauds at the Nigerian affiliate of a major oil company. Eventually, I combined this with work as a commercial litigation counsel. After eight years, I left to start my current firm – Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore – where I continued with the same type of work. In 2000, we were instructed to act in Nigeria for Brazilian clients who had lost more than $240 million to Nigerian fraudsters, and we assisted in achieving significant recoveries for them, with the bulk (in excess of $100 million) recovered in Nigeria. This work resulted in our receiving more fraud-related and investigations instructions.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL INVESTIGATIONS LAWYER?

In a jurisdiction such as Nigeria, these include good planning and management skills; objectivity, the ability to follow and assess evidence and to draw the appropriate conclusions from it; determination; and creativity – the ability to find a variety of routes to achieving results for the client.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED PRACTISING?

The profession is no longer dominated by senior members, who employ lawyers of varying seniority to assist him. There is now a degree of specialisation that did not exist previously. Partnerships are no longer a rarity, and are becoming more and more common. Corporate clientele have become much more sophisticated and increased regulation has created new practice areas.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAIN CHALLENGES YOU FACE WHEN CONDUCTING INVESTIGATIONS AND ASSET RECOVERY PROCEEDINGS IN NIGERIA?

Getting potential clients to understand what is possible, and understanding the need to invest in seeking recovery, rather than accepting the loss or asking lawyers to work on a pure contingency basis.

WHAT POTENTIAL DOES ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE HAVE FOR FACILITATING INVESTIGATIONS?

The potential is immense. It can be used to review material at great speed, highlighting important facts and identifying connections much faster than humans. Truly exciting.

WHAT MAKES SOFUNDE OSAKWE OGUNDIPE & BELGORE STAND OUT FROM COMPETITORS IN THE NIGERIAN MARKET?

First, the firm has, deliberately, remained small in its 30-odd years of existence. The intention was to enable the partners to try to ensure that our work was of the highest standard. Unlike many of the larger firms in Nigeria, the partnership has avoided the types of disputes that has caused numerous successful firms to fall apart. The partners who have left the firm have done so following retirement. Secondly, in the investigations and asset recovery space, there are very few other firms in Nigeria offering the service and possessing our track record and competences.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?

Take the time to listen to the client and to properly understand their case. Once you are certain that you understand it, be resolute in carrying out the instructions. That was from Chief Rotimi Williams.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

I am fortunate to be able to look at a number of achievements that have made me proud. However, of present relevance would be my involvement in acting for the Brazilian clients to whom I referred earlier. There are a number of reasons for this. First, what we managed to do was contrary to the expectations of most of the legal team that brought me into the case. The view was that it was simply impossible to achieve anything in Nigeria. We were able to demonstrate that was not the case and we secured results that even I did not expect we would achieve. Secondly, given the extremely slow pace of court proceedings in Nigeria, the time within which we achieved what we did was truly surprising. The recoveries secured did not come as a result of any civil action taken on behalf of the clients, but as a result of circumstances falling into place in our favour, the most important being the creation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, with which we were able to work successfully. More than 10 years since we were actively engaged in that case, we continue to have to deal with efforts by one of the fraudsters to reverse the outcome.

Global Leader

Asset Recovery 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

The "excellent" Babajide Ogundipe draws widespread recommendations from peers across the world for fraud and recovery matters and is a destination name in Africa for related work.

Biography

Babajide Ogundipe obtained his LLB from the University of London in 1978 and was called to the Nigeria Bar in 1979. After nine years at Chief Rotimi Williams’ Chambers, he co-founded Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore in 1989. A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators since 1994, he held various positions in the Nigerian branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators between 1997 and 2009, serving as chairman from 2006 to 2009. He is currently on the board of the Lagos Court of Arbitration, having served as its president from 2010 to 2014.

Asset recovery is a major part of his work as a litigator, and he has represented numerous clients seeking to recover assets lost due to fraud and other misfeasance. With this experience, he is recognised as one of Nigeria’s leading lawyers in the field.  

As arbitrator, he has been appointed in cases involving oil and gas-related engineering and exploration issues, the provision of marine and aviation services, insurance, road and building construction, airline agency commissions, sports sponsorships, defence contracts and electricity generation, conducted under the UNCITRAL based rules of Nigeria’s Arbitration and Conciliation Act, ICC Arbitration Rules, UNCITRAL rules in LCIA administered arbitrations and the rules of the Lagos Court of Arbitration.

A frequent speaker at conferences on arbitration, anti-corruption and asset recovery issues and the regulation of the legal profession, he is ICC FraudNet’s Nigeria representative. He is an active member of the International Bar Association and served for several years as an officer of the anti-corruption and regulation of lawyers’ compliance committees.

Investigations

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Babajide Ogundipe is a leading light in the Nigerian market with impressive experience in corporate investigations. Interviewees describe him as “a great lawyer to work with”.

Biography

Babajide Ogundipe obtained his LLB from the University of London in 1978 and was called to the Nigeria Bar in 1979. After nine years at Chief Rotimi Williams’ Chambers, he co-founded Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore in 1989. A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators since 1994, he held various positions in the Nigerian branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators between 1997 and 2009, serving as chairman from 2006 to 2009. He is currently on the board of the Lagos Court of Arbitration, having served as its president from 2010 to 2014.

Asset recovery is a major part of his work as a litigator, and he has represented numerous clients seeking to recover assets lost due to fraud and other misfeasance. With this experience, he is recognised as one of Nigeria’s leading lawyers in the field.  

As arbitrator, he has been appointed in cases involving oil and gas-related engineering and exploration issues, the provision of marine and aviation services, insurance, road and building construction, airline agency commissions, sports sponsorships, defence contracts and electricity generation, conducted under the UNCITRAL based rules of Nigeria’s Arbitration and Conciliation Act, ICC Arbitration Rules, UNCITRAL rules in LCIA administered arbitrations and the rules of the Lagos Court of Arbitration.

A frequent speaker at conferences on arbitration, anti-corruption and asset recovery issues and the regulation of the legal profession, he is ICC FraudNet’s Nigeria representative. He is an active member of the International Bar Association and served for several years as an officer of the anti-corruption and regulation of lawyers’ compliance committees.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
Nigeria - Litigation 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Babajide Ogundipe is recognised as one of the most prominent litigation lawyers in the country, thanks to his considerable experience of providing top-tier dispute resolution services.

Biography

Babajide Ogundipe obtained his LLB from the University of London in 1978 and was called to the Nigeria Bar in 1979. After nine years at Chief Rotimi Williams’ Chambers, he co-founded Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore in 1989. A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators since 1994, he held various positions in the Nigerian branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators between 1997 and 2009, serving as chairman from 2006 to 2009. He is currently on the board of the Lagos Court of Arbitration, having served as its president from 2010 to 2014.

Asset recovery is a major part of his work as a litigator, and he has represented numerous clients seeking to recover assets lost due to fraud and other misfeasance. With this experience, he is recognised as one of Nigeria’s leading lawyers in the field.  

As arbitrator, he has been appointed in cases involving oil and gas-related engineering and exploration issues, the provision of marine and aviation services, insurance, road and building construction, airline agency commissions, sports sponsorships, defence contracts and electricity generation, conducted under the UNCITRAL based rules of Nigeria’s Arbitration and Conciliation Act, ICC Arbitration Rules, UNCITRAL rules in LCIA administered arbitrations and the rules of the Lagos Court of Arbitration.

A frequent speaker at conferences on arbitration, anti-corruption and asset recovery issues and the regulation of the legal profession, he is ICC FraudNet’s Nigeria representative. He is an active member of the International Bar Association and served for several years as an officer of the anti-corruption and regulation of lawyers’ compliance committees.

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