THE DUTIES OF LAWYERS TO CLIENT
The rules of professional conduct covers aspects like, their duty to the profession, duty to clients, and their duty to other lawyers as well.
THE DUTIES OF LAWYERS TO CLIENT
There are ethics and professional code of conduct which a lawyer must adhere to. In Nigeria, lawyers are bound by the rules of professional conduct (RPC). The rules of professional conduct covers aspects like, their duty to the profession, duty to clients, and their duty to other lawyers as well.
For the purpose of this article, the duties will be discussed below:
DUTY TO ACCEPT BRIEFS
A lawyer has the duty to accept any brief, provided that the appropriate professional costs are paid or agreed upon. If the appropriate professional fee is offered, his brief may also include an appearance before any court in which he claims to practice, unless there are exceptional circumstances that would excuse his refusal.
This is provided for in Rule 24(1) of the RPC. The duty of counsel as provided under this rule is otherwise called the Cab Rank Rule. This name comes from the idea that the legal profession is similar to a cab rank where the cab driver is required to accept any passenger who boards his vehicle once it is his turn on the rank, regardless of the passenger's race or background. To this rule, there are a few exceptions, including the following:
Personal interest: Rule 18(2) states that where a legal practitioner receives instruction on a matter in which he has a personal interest, he has a duty to disclose this fact to the client and leave the client to decide whether or not to continue to retain his services in that particular matter.
Conflict of interest: A legal practitioner must ensure that his or her interests and those of any associates do not clash with those of a client. In most cases, a lawyer cannot represent a client who is in a legal dispute with someone he has previously given legal advice to.
Religious ground: A lawyer may decline to accept a brief from a client if the case at hand is one that contradicts with his religious conviction or inclination. Refusal based on additional justifications other than the exclusions allowed by law may constitute improper behaviour.
DUTY TO TAKE FULL INSTRUCTIONS
Before counselling a client on the best course of action in a legal matter, a lawyer must always have full instructions from the client, fully understand the client's situation, and gather all the relevant information. It is recommended that interruptions be kept to a minimum when speaking with clients and collecting their directions. To follow the client's directions is related to this. A lawyer has an obligation to obey all valid directions from a client, and failing to do so could result in legal action being taken against him for any losses that may arise.
DUTY TO TAKE INSTRUCTIONS IN CHAMBER
A lawyer should never receive a brief about a case from a client at their workplace or residence instead of the lawyer's office. The law recognises exceptions for particular instances of disease or infirmity.
DUTY TO THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE AND PRESERVE CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
The legal professional is tasked with this obligation of interviewing potential witnesses for his client or the opposing side. Also, it is the duty of the attorney to uphold client trust by not releasing any private information that the client has provided him without that client's knowledge and agreement. This is pursuant to Rule 19 of the RPC and Section 170 of the Evidence Act of Nigeria, Cap EA LFN 2011. This rule has an exception that indicates that this privilege will not apply if the communication refers to an illegal transaction.
DUTY TO APPEAR IN LITIGATION ON BEHALF OF THE CLIENT
As an advocate, the lawyer has a responsibility to show up in court for all matters for which he has been hired. This is allowed permitted by Rule 21 of the RPC. Lawyers are officers in the temple of justice, according to a well-known proverb. As such, all legal professionals must do everything in their power to maintain equity and justice by not putting off their responsibilities but rather by making sure they do so assiduously and carefully. Conclusively, in both their professional and private lives, lawyers should conduct themselves in a way that complies with the law. He must show respect for the legal system, its members, including judges, other attorneys, and public officials.
NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact email@example.com
WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM
TEL: 08065553671, 08024230080