Legal practitioners must maintain the honour of the court, create a courteous atmosphere (decorum) in the court, and uphold the dignity of the legal profession.
A scenario where counsel walks out on or from the court due to ill health or whatsoever reason is certainly a rude and unprofessional conduct, unbecoming of a legal practitioner. In such a situation, counsel has the duty to apply for an adjournment of the case to enable him seek medical assistance.
Other scenarios are where a legal practitioner makes a complaint against any judicial officer, the same must be a serious offence done by the judicial officer and before the proper authorities; Speaks loudly in the courtroom especially when the proceedings are on-going; Appears in an indecent dressing before the court; Wears the bands or gown in any place other than the court premises; Indisposed to attend to a brief but does not obtain the permission of the court for an adjournment, especially in criminal cases; Does not attend all the adjournments; And performs his functions in such a manner that due to his acts, the honour, dignity, and integrity of the court is affected.
In Nigeria, Part D of the RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR LEGAL PRACTITIONERS, 2007 regulates the relationship with the court. Rule 31(1) (2), & (3) state as follows:
“31. (1) A lawyer shall always treat the Court with respect, dignity, and honour.
(2) Where the lawyer has a proper ground for complaint against a judicial officer, he shall make his complaint to the appropriate authorities.
(3) A lawyer who fails to comply with any undertaking given by him either personally or on behalf of his client to a court is prima facie guilty of professional misconduct.”
The imperative for counsel’s apposite conduct to the court and in the court, 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.