A junior colleague was before a District Court Judge in the FCT, he announced appearance as the Plaintiff/Applicant and informed the court that although the opposing counsel in his matter had called him earlier to ask for a stand-down of their matter, he insisted that he wanted to go on with the matter and argued that the agreement he had with the other counsel was not binding on him because it was not made within the courtroom but rather outside the court.
Ms. Legal Tips rose up as an amicus curia and drew the court’s attention to the provision in the Rules of Professional Conduct that states that counsel is to honor their agreement with each other, in and out of court.
In Nigeria, this provision can be found in the RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR LEGAL PRACTITIONERS, 2007 as follows;
Part C. RELATION WITH OTHER LAWYERS.
Rule 27 (1), (2) (a), (b) & (c) Good faith and fairness among lawyers.
- (1) A lawyer shall observe good faith and fairness in dealing with, another lawyer.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of sub-rule (1) of this rule, a lawyer –
(a) Shall observe strictly all promises or agreements with other opposing lawyers whether oral or in writing and whether in or out of court, and shall adhere in good faith to all agreements implied by the circumstances of the case.
(b) shall, where he gives a personal undertaking and does not expressly or clearly disclaim personal liability thereunder, honor his undertaking promptly;
(c) shall not take an undue advantage of the predicament or misfortune of the opposing lawyer or client.
It is therefore important for counsel to maintain good faith and fairness amongst themselves.
LEGAL TIP SERIES 01