A reputable telecommunication company hired the services of a lawyer. Part of its mandate was to help the company calibrate its bid for a Nigerian Communications Commission license and to provide full legal advice, as such the lawyer became privy to certain confidential information about the company’s structure, business model, and strategy. Eventually, the representation ended and Counsel bought shares in a new thriving “B” telecommunication company. Soon, “A” telecommunications company was repeatedly out bided for subsequent licenses by “B” thriving rival telecommunication company.

The company feared that counsel was exploiting the confidential information it learned from previously representing the company.
Legal Tips drew the attention of the colleague to the provision in the Rules of Professional Conduct that states that counsel must inform the client of any interest in connection to a case that might influence the client in the selection of the counsel.
In Nigeria, Part B of the RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR LEGAL PRACTITIONERS, 2007 regulates conflict of interest. Rule 17(1) & (2) states as follows:

  1. (1) A lawyer shall, at the time of the retainer disclose to the client all the circumstances of his relations with the parties, and any interest in or connection with the controversy which might influence the client in the selection of the lawyer.
    (2)Except with the consent of his client after full disclosure, a lawyer shall not accept a retainer if the exercise of his professional judgment on behalf of his client will be or may reasonably be affected by his own financial, business, property, or personal interest.
    The imperative for counsel to emphatically specify areas of conflict of interest to clients cannot be overemphasized.

LEGALTIPS is anchored by Ms CIA Ofoegbunam, an Abuja-based lawyer who is passionate about legal practice.

LEGALTIPS offers quick hints on substantive law, as well as rules of practice and procedure, and serves as a handy reference guide to lawyers, especially in court.

Published on a weekly basis, the LEGALTIPS Series is CIA’s modest contribution to legal development in Nigeria.

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