Experts Call for Specialised Aviation Lawyers

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Chinedu Eze

Experts in the legal profession have called for more lawyers to train as aviation experts so that they could play significant roles in aircraft leasing, insurance and other aspects of negotiations where legal advice and counsel are needed.

Speaking at the maiden edition on the Annual Seminar of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law, themed ‘Unlocking the potentials of aviation law and practice in Nigeria,’ Managing Director, Landover Company Ltd, Edward Boyo said that young lawyers should look at playing effectively in the aviation space as so much work still need to be done.

“Aviation is complex and requires a lot of intellectual legal work and young lawyers should look into this area. There are lots of litigations and opportunities for law firms in this sector,” Boyo said.

He faulted the decree 9 of the 1995 Act, which gives the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) power to operate as a minister, adding that in 2006 Act, part of the FAAN act was not repelled.

Boyo explained that these conflicts in the Acts kill confidence of foreign investors and stakeholders in the sector. He reiterated the need to address the gaps in these legal frameworks for aviation to grow in Nigeria.
Chief Executive Officer, Maevis Nigeria Limited, Tunde Fagbemi said in Nigeria, country of over 180million people, propensity to travel is 0.04, when compared to South Africa with a population of 54million people, propensity to travel is 0.49.

Fagbemi said if Nigeria can double propensity to travel, the sector will be grow above what it is today.
He listed some of the challenges of the sector to include low utilisation of aircraft and runway, infrastructure deficit, controversy over Cape Town convention, issue with aircraft registration, quality and adherence to contracts agreements amongst others.

He noted that over the years, these challenges have persisted because there are no legal system that can stand up to the regulator that is not ethical.

Also speaking at the event, Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema said aviation industry will not grow except lawyers can key into the sector.

Onyema decried the almost absence of effective lawyers in the sector and suggested that legal practice in Nigeria needs to be cued favourably towards aviation.

He urged young lawyers to take special interest in aviation law to ensure the sector was properly served, saying it was a disservice to the country that only a handful of its lawyers could properly handle aviation briefs.
Onyema advocated a law making lawyers’ involvement in the acquisition of aircraft and other key aspects of the aviation industry mandatory, saying a lot of the rules regulating airline business in the country were impracticable.