A LAWYER who represents a litigant in court has three main functions.
The first is a duty to the court. This duty means that a lawyer must assist the court in the prompt, fair and economical administration of justice by the court, which includes complying with all directions given by the court unless there is a good reason.
This duty is enshrined in Rule 12 of the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978 (Rules of Practice and Etiquette) which states that a barrister and solicitor shall not conduct a civil case or present a defense which merely aims to delay the proceeding or to harass or injure the opposing party or to work oppression or harm.
The second is a duty to the profession. This means that he must conduct himself in an appropriate manner when dealing with a matter in court in order to maintain the dignity and prestige of his profession.
This is provided for in Rule 31 of the Rules of Practice and Etiquette.
The third duty is due to his client. This means that he must fearlessly defend the interests of his client. In other words, he must present his client’s case in the best possible light before the court with all the courtesy due to the court.
This is provided for in Rule 16 of the Rules of Practice and Etiquette.
The rules of practice and etiquette provide for other duties of a lawyer. Section 24(b) provides that a lawyer may request the adjournment of a case that has been scheduled for hearing only for good and compelling reasons.
Rule 6(a) reminds counsel that they can only accept a memorandum if they are reasonably certain that they will be able to appear and represent their client on the required day. This duty was emphasized by High Court Judge Su Geok Yiam in Tan Sri Datuk Diong Hiew [email protected] Hiew King vs. Lau Swee [email protected] Sui Guang (2014).
In this case, the judge ruled that the new lawyer who succeeded the old lawyer must ensure that he was able to comply with the court’s instructions asking the parties to file and exchange their witness statements. no later than the relevant date. Otherwise, he should not have agreed to take over the file.
The judge interpreted rule 6(a) to mean that a barrister and a barrister should not accept any brief if he was unable to comply with the instructions given by the court regarding the management of cases before the trial .
Perhaps it is appropriate to recall what High Court Judge Harun Hashim (as he then was) said in Prosecutor v Mohtar Bin Abdul Latiff (1980):
It will not be out of place here to remind all concerned of the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978, under section 77 of the Legal Profession Act 1976, which provides:
Rule 2: No lawyer and notary is required to act as an adviser or advocate for any person who would like to become his client, but the lawyer and the notary may accept any case before the courts in which he claims to practice for a fee. appropriate professional fees depending on the length and difficulty of the case:
Provided that particular circumstances may justify its refusal, at its discretion, to accept such or such dissertation.
Rule 6(a): A barrister and solicitor should not accept any brief unless it is reasonably certain that he will be able to appear and represent the client on the required day. »
Rule 24(a): A barrister and solicitor should endeavor to be ready for trial on the day fixed. (b) A barrister and a solicitor may request the adjournment of a matter which has been scheduled for hearing only for good and compelling reasons.
Any solicitor and solicitor who fails to comply with the rules laid down under this section may be subject to disciplinary proceedings – section 77(3) of the Legal Profession Act 1976.
In this case, counsel had no valid or compelling reason to request a postponement of the hearing. Hearing dates had been set well in advance to suit his convenience. He should not have accepted this brief or the other briefs that clashed with the trial dates in this case.
A lawyer’s duty to the court is paramount.
This is to assist the court in the prompt, fair and economical administration of justice and this includes not accepting any briefs unless he is reasonably certain he can appear and represent his client on the day required. – July 30, 2022.
* Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the author or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. The article may be edited for brevity and clarity.