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Paying Commission To Agents and Lawyers (2019)

paying commission to agents and lawyers

It is only fair that after every work done, the lawyer or the agent deserves commission for the work he or she put in for you and I believe the same goes for everybody. That’s why it surprises me that paying commission to agents and lawyers most times is a problem to most people. Maybe they feel cheated or over charged. Well this will help you understand why you are charged so high or so low in different occasions.

Agency fees are not illegal as some people think it to be, it is a reward for the service rendered to both the landlord and prospective tenant or a buyer looking for a house or a piece of land. Generally, Agency Fees for tenancy agreements is 10% of the tenancy rates. For instance, if the property is going for N200,000 per annum, the agency fee will be 10% of N200,000 which amounts to N20,000 for one year. While for property sales, it is usually 5% of the total price paid for the property.

It is, however, advisable for buyers and tenants to always ensure they deal with estate agents that are registered with the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV).

The Board is charged with the general duty of; determining who are estate surveyors and valuers; determining what standards of knowledge and skill are to be attained by persons seeking to become registered as estate surveyors and valuers; the establishment and maintenance of a register of persons entitled to practice as estate surveyors and valuers; regulating and controlling the practice of estate surveying and valuation in all its aspects and ramifications. It is, however, no doubt that some agents have a questionable character that is why there is an establishment of a board to regulate the conduct of agents in Nigeria.

On the other hand, lawyers charge for services differently, depending on the nature of your needs, the value of services you seek and the difficulty of your situation. Payment for a lawyer’s skill and knowledge differs from lawyer to lawyer, so it is important to understand exactly how you will be charged before engaging a lawyer’s services.

A lawyer can either charge fixed fees, hourly rate, contingency Fees, or Percentage Fees depending on the agreement made between the lawyer and the client.


A fixed fee is used when a lawyer knows ahead of time what the cost will be. For example; incorporating a company, drafting a straightforward document, land instruments in a real estate transactions, Will etc.


Hourly rates vary widely depending on the experience of the lawyer and the nature of your case. Since most cases involve an unknown amount of time and work to be spent on a case due to many factors involved in the case file. Lawyers keep records of all hours spent working on the case. Though, this type of charge is not common in Nigeria.


Contingency fee usually depends on the lawyer settling your case or winning at trial. The lawyer is paid a percentage of the amount of the settlement usually 10 percent.


Percentage fees are not related to the quality of service or the amount of time a lawyer spends on a case but instead represents a percentage of a specific asset or transaction. If the value of the asset is very high, the lawyer can obtain a relatively high fee for his services under this fee arrangement.

In Nigeria, the Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession provides for fees for legal practitioners

Section 40 provides:

(a)  It is the spirit and tradition of the Bar that counsel is separately instructed and separately remunerated by fees for each piece of work done. It is therefore not permissible for counsel to undertake to represent any person, authority or corporation in all their court work for a fixed annual salary.

(b) For each case in which he appears, counsel must have a separate fee

Also, section 44 (b) provides that:

In determining the amount of the fee, it is proper to consider:

(i) The time and labour required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the skill requisite properly to conduct the cause;

(ii) Whether the acceptance of employment in the particular case will preclude the lawyer’s appearance for others in cases likely to arise out of the transaction, and in which there is a reasonable expectation that otherwise he would be employed?

(iii) Whether the acceptance of the employment will involve the loss of other employment while employed in the particular case or antagonisms with other clients;

(iv) The customary charges of the Bar for similar   services;

(v)  The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client from the services;

(vi) The contingency or the certainty of the compensation; and

(vii) The character of the employment, whether casual or for an established and constant client.

No one of these considerations in itself is controlling. They are mere guides in ascertaining the real value of the service.

In the case of Akingbeyin v Thompson (2008) 6 NWLR (PT 1083) 270 C.A. The Court of Appeal held that a lawyer who has rendered professional services is entitled to be paid his fees.


In conclusion, it suffices to say that equity aids the vigilant and not the indolent. To all Agents out there, do not sleep over your right if a client deliberately refuses to pay your agency or legal fee, sue that client, it is legal and just.


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