Professional Ethics and skill
By C.J. OKOYE
LAWYER’S DUTIES TO CLIENTS I
LAWYER’S DUTIES TO CLIENTS II
1. Dedication to client’s matter
2. Duty to accept brief
3. Conflict of interest
4. Representing client within the bounds of law
5. Representing client competently
6. Professional negligence by lawyers
7. Privilege and confidence of the client (including the mandatory provisions of sections 6, 7 & 8 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011). However, note provisions of S.6 Money Laundering (Amendment) Act 2012 and the case of NBA vs. A. G. Federation and CBN Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/173/2013
8. Lawyer as witness for a client
9. Responsibility for litigation
10. Withdrawal from employment
11. Dealing with client’s property
12. Calling at a client’s house for instructions
13. General duties of lawyer to client
14. Change of counsel by client
At the end of this lesson students would be able to:
1. Discuss and explain the lawyer’s duties to the client (14 – 25);
2. Explain the various duties owed a client by the lawyer.
Pre – class activities
1. Students to read Rules 14-25 of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 in advance
2. Students read Rules 26 – 29 of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 in advance
3. Students are to read sections 5 – 8 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 in advance
Lawyers’ Duties to Clients
1. Adebo Wilcox, a lawyer called to the Nigerian Bar in 2012, practiced in the Law firm of Garba Wali & Co immediately after his call. He practiced in the said law firm for two years after which he decided to set up his own. One morning last month, Joe Fabian approached him in his law firm and briefed him regarding a sum of $2,000,000 dollars that was reportedly traced to his account stating that he had no clue of how this money appeared in his account especially as he could not readily recognise the name of the person by whom the said sum was paid. Joe wanted Adebo to represent him. Without wanting to hear more, Adebo Wilcox asked Joe to kindly leave his office as he was not interested in acting on his behalf as he did not want according to Adebo, ‘EFCC wahala’.
a. Discuss the legal/ethical implication(s) of Adebo’s conduct.
b. Is/are there any circumstances that would vary your answer above?
2. In the just concluded elections in Ogoli state, Tochukwu Obinwa and Doris Egerton grabbed the gubernatorial tickets for the seats of governor and deputy respectively on the platform of the CICP. With the elections over and as counting progressed, the CICP was leading the opposing party, PRDP by 24, 566 votes. By the end of the counting exercise, several irregularities were discovered in some wards during the electioneering process which lead the Electoral Commission to cancel the results emanating therefrom. The Commission declared a rerun in the said wards as it is stipulated in the Electoral Act. Tochukwu is unhappy with this development and has approached his lawyer, Obiewu to challenge this in court. He claims that it is the doing of his political enemies who do not want to see him become great. He accused the Commission of having collected bribe from PRDP and that the governorship candidate for that party, his opponent, had promised to give the Electoral Officer a juicy portfolio once he can declare victory for the PRDP. Obiewu has drafted the relevant court processes based on Tochukwu’s claims and filed this in court in order to contest the rerun. On the day, the matter was to come up for the first time, Obiewu was in Faldin State, preparing to observe the Gubernatorial elections of that state. The matter was adjourned till 6 weeks later, Obiewu failed to attend the next court sitting as he forgot to update the records of matters coming up in his office diary. The matter was thereafter struck out with costs.
a. Discus the ethical issues involved in this scenario.
3. Akin Odebode and Kenny Adepitan are desirous of establishing a shopping centre together. They are searching for property in one of the highbrow areas of Abuja. They are able to locate one in the Maitama area and have asked Soji Bankole, a lawyer, to carry out the necessary checks for them. To Soji’s surprise, the property in question is that of his late father-in-law, that he willed to Soji’s wife, Banke, which she now wants to sell after years of waiting to obtain the Letters of Administration on the said property. Discuss Soji’s professional/ethical responsibility, if any.
4. Jumai Mohammed had spent ten months at home after endlessly searching for work without success. She was introduced as a lawyer to Alhaji Dan Gusau by a friend at a party which she recently attended. She related her predicament to Alhaji who gave her his business card and asked her to meet with him at his house in order for him to brief her regarding the drafting of several lease agreements for the properties in his luxury estate that he just acquired. Jumai visits Alhaji and they enter into a lawyer/client relationship. He also uses this opportunity to seek Jumai’s advice on the manner of recovering a contract sum from one of his associates who failed to execute a contract to supply electronics worth the sum of $350,000.00. Jumai responds by saying, “Lets sue the bastard”
a. Discuss the propriety or otherwise of Jumai’s actions.
5. Adekola, a lawyer and friend of Miss Mabadeje, was briefed by the latter to purchase a property for her in Perry Estate, Houston, Texas, USA for $1,000,000.00. This property is being sold by Perry Estate’s agents based in Nigeria. Miss. Mabadeje is aware that becoming a property owner in the USA shall avail her the opportunity to become a green card holder and ultimately become an American citizen. Her intention is to elope and relocate to the USA with her secret lover that she is secretly pregnant for. Miss Mabadeje confides in Adekola and deeply pleads with him not to reveal this information to her fiancé, whom she is scheduled to get married to in two months. Adekola does as he is told but Miss. Mabadeje has failed to keep to her own side of the bargain by not paying Adekola for services rendered even after several reminders to her. Adekola informs Miss. Mabadeje that he may have to reveal the confidence to other persons.
a) Can Adekola reveal the confidence of his client to other persons? Briefly state why?
b) Are there instances under the Law where a Lawyer may reveal confidences and secrets reposed in him/her by the client. State four of these.
c) Miss Mabadeje realises that Adekola has become distant after the incidence that occurred. She is afraid that Adekola may choose not to represent her any longer. Advice Miss Mabadeje the possible grounds upon which Adekola may choose to withdraw his services.
d) Assuming that Adekola is currently handling a contract matter for Miss Mabadeje, a matter which is already before the court, but the latter is no longer comfortable with Adekola continuing with the matter, what must Adekola do where Miss Mabadeje informs him that she is no longer interested in his services?
6. Provide a legal opinion on whether or not the Federal High Court was in order in nullifying section 5/6 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.